Yesterday’s reading from the Prophet Amos was full of words that signaled the end of the northern kingdom. Here we are one chapter later, the final chapter of the Book of Amos, and we read words that are full of hope. Does chapter nine negate the words of chapter eight? Obviously not; however, all of the prophets, no matter how dire their warnings, were filled with hope that someone would listen and take their words to heart. In fact, they speak of the remnant of Israel, the leftovers, those who did not conform to the ways of the wicked. Some of the children of Israel would hearken to the words of the prophets and would change their lives.
We all know that change is not easy. Perhaps there is nothing that is more difficult. We see this demonstrated in today’s Gospel very clearly. The disciples of John are disappointed in the fact that the disciples of Jesus do not fast. While we know that some of John’s disciples became disciples of Jesus, we also know that even after the death and resurrection of Jesus, there were some who could not accept Jesus. Though a minority, these former disciples of John eventually die out. Sadly, they never came to see the truth that Jesus was the one for whom they were waiting.
God’s promise of restoration, so beautifully written in the Book of Amos, comes to fruition in the person of Jesus. Jesus calls us all to a change of heart. Like the prophets of old, he asks us to accept the new and to discard the old. Using two metaphors for change, a piece of unshrunken cloth and an old wineskin, he reminds us that change means leaving some things behind. Just as we heard yesterday, letting go of old traditions will never be easy. Nonetheless, it is so necessary if we hope that our relationship with God will continue to grow. Old habits die hard. This is precisely why we find it so hard to let go of our faults and failings.
The Eucharist offers us food and drink upon which we can grow in the hope that someday we will succeed in letting go of the old and accepting the new that is Jesus.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator