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  Amaziah's Word to Hispanics

"As we read Scripture we repeatedly see that God uses the margin to speak to the center. God did speak to Pharaoh; but spoke to him through the exiled Moses. God spoke to the mighty Roman Empire; but that Word came out of a despised corner of a distant province.

Such was the case with Amos, the lowly shepherd and dresser of sycamore trees from barren Tekoa in the underdeveloped kingdom of Judah who crossed the border to prophesy in the richer land of Israel. (Did that make him an illegal alien?) Out of the backwoods, where sycamores were considered fruit fit for human consumption, came the shepherd. And he did not speak the words of the learned, for he knew and spoke only of locusts, and summer fruit, and plumb lines. But that was not what disturbed Amaziah. In the rich kingdom of Israel, where some slept in ivory beds and anointed themselves with the finest oils, there were many who were as poor as Amos. There were many who performed the hard and lowly tasks connected with the upkeep of life, so that the few could live in comfort. What disturbed Amaziah was that this immigrant, whose accent still rang of the southern wilderness, dared criticize what was going on in Israel. And that, not only in the small villages or quietly by the fires of the shepherds, but in Bethel, which was no less than the king's sanctuary. And so Amaziah followed a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, he sent word to King Jeroboam, accusing Amos of conspiring against him, On the other, he invited Amos to leave the country; to return to his homeland and prophesy there, where his words would spell trouble for neither Amos nor Amaziah. 

Amaziah's words have a familiar ring to Hispanics, repeatedly, when we have spoken of the social evils of this country, we have been told - sometimes openly, and sometimes subtly - to go prophesy in our own land. That is particularly puzzling for those of us whose ancestors were in this land generation before they were occupied by the United States. But in any case most of us are aware that there is a connection between such invitations to the Amaziahs and Jeroboams of the Northern Kingdoms. Things would be safer and quieter were we to go and speal our radical word down south.

For some odd reason, God has told us to speak here. And speak we must . And speak we shall."

Voces: Voices from the Hispanic Church edited by Justo L. Gonzalez, Abington, 1992. Gonzalez is "dean" of Hispanic Christian writers/thinkers. 

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