Posts Tagged ‘Prophets’

Prophets in Our Time

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ez 2: 2-5; 2 Cor 12: 7-10; Mk 6: 1-6

By Deacon Larry Brockman


Have you ever thought of Jesus as a prophet?  According to Webster’s Dictionary, a prophet is “One who utters divinely inspired revelations”.  Jesus certainly fulfilled that role.  He told everyone about the coming of the Kingdom of God, but people didn’t want to hear about Jesus’ Kingdom.  They wanted to hear about an earthly Kingdom.  People wanted the Kingdom of Israel restored.  They wanted the occupation of the Romans to end with its stifling taxation and government control their lives.  They wanted a Jewish King and an Israeli State that would restore good times. They wanted prosperity on earth; a land full of milk and honey; and lots of money too!   


But Jesus didn’t talk about their kind of kingdom.  He had a different concern, and that was his saving message.  Jesus talked about a conversion of the heart- one that started with repentance for one’s sins and Faith in God’s providence and will for them.  Jesus talked about living their faith so that they could become part of an eternal kingdom.  And so, the people remarked: “Where did he get all this from?”  You see, they had lived right alongside of Jesus; he was known to them; and they didn’t see him following the path of a Rabbi.  Far from it, Jesus was self-taught, and was not a disciple of one of their rabbis as their customs required. 


And yet, there was something about Jesus’ teaching that rang true.  Indeed, a call for conversion of the heart wakes our consciences out of a slumber.  And Jesus also spoke with authority and with confidence.  His teaching came from a deep seated conviction that they could all sense.  But they didn’t accept it as authentic, because their culture didn’t condone Jesus as a teacher.  He didn’t have a rabbi’s training or credentials.  He didn’t talk about their kind of Kingdom.  And so, they kept on their own course, and were not open- they were of little faith that God had sent someone special to them.  And so, Jesus could not do great things for them because they rejected him and his message.   


You know, real prophets have never been very popular.  They shake people up, because they tell the truth- the message that God wants them to proclaim.  Most of the time, that message doesn’t match the people’s concerns; but it may be the core of what’s wrong with society because God sees differently.  God sees the core of the problem. 


In the first reading, God tells Ezekiel to hold firm and to speak with resolve in God’s name, whatever God inspires him to say; so that even if the people reject the message, they will know that a prophet has been amongst them.  Prophets over all time have had to follow this advice.   


We live in a world that rejects prophets just like the Israelis did.  We are concerned with jobs and taxes and inflation and health insurance; and rightly so, because these are problems in our society.  But what is the root cause of these problems?  What is it that God wants us to know about his plan forward?  That’s what the modern prophets of God will speak to.  And what is the message that we are hearing from our modern day prophets- led by the Church and the Pope and the Bishops?  It is one of love and compassion and holding to the teachings of the Church.  These prophets speak of the importance of the right to life; the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman; and the rights of all people, even illegal immigrants, victims of human trafficking, and the poor.  And many of the spokesmen for the Church- prophets if you will, are right amongst us.  They are our own. 


Some people wonder where “they get all this from”.  The answer is simple.  They get the substance of their message from the Catechism because the Catechism summarizes the Scripture and traditional teachings of the Church; but they get the inspiration to speak up from God because it burns within them until they speak out, just like it burned within Ezekiel.   


Nowadays, the Church’s message seems to be more and more passionate as the problems gets worse.   First, the US Bishops have spoken as a group on all the major moral issues.  Second, as the attacks on our conscience rights by our Government have intensified; and as the pro-choice and gay rights movements have gotten more aggressive, prophets have risen from amongst us, people like Cardinal Dolan and Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.  And they are relentlessly bombarding us with the truth, and appealing to us to mend our ways and repent.  They are calling us to action as well.  But, are we listening? Are we responding?   


During our recent Fortnight for Freedom the parish held all kinds of events to give us the opportunity to pray as a group; to sacrifice our time and desires in order to listen and respond to God.  These events also provided educational opportunities, ways in which we could find out what the Church teaches and why.  Lastly, we were taught how we could respond; how we could help change things.  There were several hundred people involved, and that is great.  But what about the thousands of others in our parish?  Where were they?  Did they ignore the message because it was just more of the same?  After all, aren’t these people just part of our own community; and “where did they get all this from” and “who gives them this authority”?   


Perhaps people feel that they are powerless to do anything.  In which case, we need only to listen to Paul’s words this morning.  Paul was given “a thorn in the flesh” that burdened him.  And ultimately, he came to the conclusion that God would give him sufficient grace to overcome his weakness.  Indeed, God gives all of us sufficient grace to overcome our weaknesses.  All of us can do great things, especially together.  We can all pray, and we can all sacrifice some of our time to listen to God’s call and give Him the opportunity to lead us.   


The jury is out on us American Catholics.  Are we listening to the modern day prophets?  Our current Government has decided not to enforce the Marriage Act; is mandating that our Catholic Institutions pay for and provide insurance that violates our moral principles; has cut off funding to Catholic Charities to care for Human Trafficking victims because we won’t offer victims to birth control and other services; and has changed the law to publicly fund abortion.  But we all have an opportunity to do something about it this year.  Will we be like the Israelis in Ezekiel’s times, who hardened their hearts; or the people in Jesus home town who rejected one of their own?.  Or will we listen to our modern day prophets?  The choice is yours.