Advent 2009 Week Four Day Four

 Advent hope arises and becomes strong not by abstract discussions of the meaning of justice or even by clear visions of the type of reforms that are needed but by solidarity with the victims of the injustice by which some of us have a modicum of prosperity, whether they be on our doorstep or on the other side of the planet. Micah could certainly denounce the powerful. But denunciations, especially in today’s economic climate, are cheap. Denunciation without love is not what the prophets were about. Behind the denunciations of Micah was love – love for and identification with the people and love enkindled by God’s undying love for a people who have yet to know how real that love is.

 

Advent 2009 – A World In Waiting

Week Four – Labor, Life, Love

Day Four – Micah, The People’s Prophet

 

What Micah had in common with many other prophets was his denunciation of injustice. What was special about him was not who he was against but who he was with. Micah came from the village of Moresheth. Unlike his contemporary Isaiah, Micah was an outsider as far as Jerusalem and its circles of royal, priestly and aristocratic power were concerned: ‘Its rulers give judgment for a bribe, its priests teach for a price, its prophets give oracles for money’ (Micah 3:11). But he was not an outsider as far as the people were concerned. Well might he be called ‘The People’s Prophet’.

 

He spoke out against the way the smallholdings of the poor were being seized by the perpetrators of injustice in the process of accumulating their wealth: ‘They covet fields and seize them, houses and take them away’ (Micah 2: 2). The court prophets tried to silence him but, unlike them, he had nothing to lose by speaking the truth. Micah took sides, identifying totally with the victims of injustice: ‘You rise up against my people as an enemy’ (Micah 2:8). He would not be silenced. And the more he spoke out, the more his strength increased: ‘But as for me, I am filled with power, with the spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might’ (Micah 3:8).

 

His outrage stemmed from what he saw as the results of the greed of the powerful: ‘You… who tear the skin off my people and the flesh off their bones; who eat the flesh of my people, flay their skin off them, break their bones in pieces, and chop them up like meat in a kettle, like flesh in a cauldron’ (Micah 3:2-3) He had to speak out on behalf of the defenseless: ‘The women of my people you drive out from their pleasant houses; from their young children you take away my glory forever’ (Micah 2: 9). This takes us back to where these Advent reflections began – a few becoming super-rich with astronomical bonuses and the world’s leading banks being bailed out, all at the expense of the people. As in the reading from Jeremiah so with Micah, from such things God is hiding his face: ‘Then they will cry to the Lord, but he will not answer them; he will hide his face from them at that time, because they have acted wickedly’ (Micah 3:4).

 

But with Micah we hear it from the perspective of the victims of injustice. The lesson? Advent hope arises and becomes strong not by abstract discussions of the meaning of justice or even by clear visions of the type of reforms that are needed but by solidarity with the victims of the injustice by which some of us have a modicum of prosperity, whether they be on our doorstep or on the other side of the planet. Micah could certainly denounce the powerful. But denunciations, especially in today’s economic climate, are cheap. Denunciation without love is not what the prophets were about. Behind the denunciations of Micah was love – love for and identification with the people and love enkindled by God’s undying love for a people who have yet to know how real that love is.

 

That is at the heart of the message of the prophets.

 

May the Advent of the Living Christ bring new life to you as you labor and love his world.

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