The readings today feature men engaged in unholy pursuits, and in the Gospel Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. So, whatever pursuits one is engaged in, he or she has an immortal soul made in God’s image, and God is calling him or her to be one with him.
Let me digress on the picture of the wealthy shop owners that Amos pictures in the fist reading. They trample on the needy, and they destroy the poor. They sprawl on polished wooden floors, trying to make the best of blue days when the law will not let them open for business. “When will the new moon be over that we may sell our grain? We will diminish the containers for measuring, we will add to the weights, and fix our scales for cheating.”
In my ten years in a little Korean town I often walked by the shops of people like that one for whom adding to their wealth is everything.
Once when I was riding a bus back from the capitol, the bus broke down twenty miles short of our town. A stranger came up to me, addressing me as a priest, and suggesting that we split the price of a taxi to get us home. Riding with him, I showed surprise that he knew me, but he said, “I’ve watched you walk by for years; but we shopkeepers never go to church, because we make our living by cheating people.”
That reminds me of another one of my stories, this one from Fernandina. Once I accompanied friends to watch a Saturday tennis match at Amelia Island. Needing to prepare my Sunday sermon, I went out to sit in my car. After a bit, I heard the P.A. System from the tennis match calling for Father Sullivan.
Going back to the stadium, I found that the match was suspended for a man from New York who had come to meet the man his daughter was about to marry. He was having a stroke, and in the midst of all those sprightly dressed people, he was writhing between the aisles, slobbering.
After I heard his confession, they carried him away and Chrissy and Navratilova finished their match.
I felt so sorry for the man, making such a disgusting display of himself, but when I checked on him in the hospital two days later, he told me, “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. After going for years with no thought other than making money, this has brought me to see what life is really about.”