bible blog 185

This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church

Reading 1, Amos 5:14-15, 21-24

14 Seek good and not evil so that you may survive, and the Lord God of Hosts be with you, as you claim he is. 15 Hate evil, love good, let justice reign at the city gate: it may be that the God of Hosts will take pity on the remnant of Joseph.

21 I hate, I scorn your festivals, I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies.

22 When you bring me burnt offerings, I do not accept them and I do not look at your communion sacrifices of fat cattle.

23 Spare me the din of your chanting, let me hear none of your strumming on lyres,

24 but let justice flow like water, and goodness like a never-failing stream!

Gospel, Mt 8:28-34

28 When he reached the territory of the Gadarenes on the other side, two demoniacs came towards him out of the tombs — they were so dangerously violent that nobody could use that path. 29 Suddenly they shouted, ‘What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the time?’

30 Now some distance away there was a large herd of pigs feeding, 31 and the devils pleaded with Jesus, ‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’

32 And he said to them, ‘Go then,’ and they came out and made for the pigs; and at that the whole herd charged down the cliff into the lake and perished in the water. 33 The herdsmen ran off and made for the city, where they told the whole story, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34 Suddenly the whole city set out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw him they implored him to leave their neighbourhood.

The words of Amos from the 8th century BCE set out forever the danger of religion: that it will become a matter of solemn rituals, ostentatious offerings, and singing hymns. Unless it is accompanied by a commitment to social justice and personal goodness, God hates it. That’s Amos’ message; and generations of religious people have tried to ignore it.

Mark tells a wonderful story about the Gadarene madman, which Matthew chose to change, for some reason, into two madmen. Moreover he doesn’t tell the story nearly as well. You can tell why the people don’t want Jesus-he’s just wasted a herd of pigs, which doesn’t matter to him because he’s a Jew, but might matter to them, as they’re not Jews. Matthew’s point is Jesus’ power over evil spirits.

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