In the first reading, the prophet Amos exposes the wrongdoings of exploiters and swindlers. Obviously the sins of the present time are also the sins of the past. Amos warns Israel of a mysterious punishment from God on evildoers – darkness, mourning, famine and drought of the word of God. The last punishment is the most scary. It means that God can be so fed up with us as to stop talking to us. If our sins become too much to bear, God will leave us to our depraved actions till we are so dried up and thirsty for his love and mercy. Hell is not fire and brimstone, but a place where God is absent because there He is not wanted. And there, the emptiness man feels after years of selfish actions, such as exploiting others and immoral living, will surface and gnaw at him because only God can truly fill up and make us happy. Not money, success, fame, power or prestige.
The gospel gives us hope. Jesus comes to save sinners. The tax collector Matthew must have experienced the meaninglessness of accumulating riches, exploiting others, etc. He must also have resolved to amend his ways after listening to Jesus preach. The world and all its allurements cannot satisfy man. Only Jesus, Son of God and saviour of the world, can. Do we believe this? Have you finally realized this? If you are still thinking that the world can give you happiness, true happiness, Jesus is coming to you and inviting you to change your mentality. Do not be like the Pharisees who were self-righteous and who looked down on others. Jesus is willing to dine with us even if we are sinners. Are we interested in dining with him or do we prefer the company of the devil?