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Amos 3:15. I will tear down the winter house as well as the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end, says the LORD.
Wouldn’t it be great if this frightening prophecy was about someone else, perhaps some other rich people? Alas, I think many of us are the targets of Amos’ warning.
A few years ago I was in Tanzania, where I had occasion to speak with the son of an Anglican priest. He was curious about the life of a priest in the United States, so he started asking me questions. Because many African priests do not receive a stipend, relying instead on contributions from the faithful, he asked me if I received a stipend. “Yes,” I replied nonchalantly, “but it’s not like I’m getting rich or anything.”
He asked me if I had a home. Yes. How many people live there? Two of us, in four bedrooms. Yes, we have two cars. Then this gentle prophet said to me, “You are rich, indeed.”
Of course, he’s right. As God has blessed us with homes and abundant goods, I expect that God wants us to be wary of loving our goods a bit too much.
Today the Church remembers John of Damascus, Priest, c. 760.