Newsletter for Sunday 30 January 2022

28 Jan

You too must be a Prophet!

In today’s First Reading from the prophet Jeremiah (1:4-5,17-19), God warns him, that like all true prophets he will be hated and feared. God doesn’t send prophets to give people a pat on the back and tell them they’re nice! Prophets are always counter-cultural, and God sends them when mankind rationalises and justifies things that are deeply sinful and then glories in them. So He tells Jeremiah, “Brace yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I command you.” This is precisely what Jeremiah did. He said continuously to the people, “If you don’t repent, Babylon is going to come and destroy the Temple.”  Well, they didn’t repent, they rejected Jeremiah and they tried to kill him. His prophecy was fulfilled because eventually Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple was burned to the ground. Jeremiah is a pre-figuring of Christ. Similar to Our Lord, he was beaten up, rejected, thrown down a well, and according to tradition was stoned to death, and all because he was calling the people to repentance.

We, by virtue of our Baptism and Confirmation, are Christ’s soldiers and ambassadors. We are the members of His army. We have to be prophets in the world today. We have to announce Christ’s Kingdom. It’s not always going to be easy, but God’s command to Jeremiah is also addressed to each one of us. “I have appointed you as prophet to the nations. So now brace yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I command you.” This is affirmed by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) which taught, “Christ, fulfils this prophetic office, not only by the hierarchy … but also by the laity (Lumen gentium #35).

Sometimes our role as prophet requires us to use words, and at other times we inspire people through our actions – that is through our love, and sometimes love has to be tough. St Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997) practised this love by caring for the people dying in the streets. She and her sisters would go and pick up the dying men and women, both young and old, wash them and feed them and help them to die with dignity, knowing they had been loved. Then, at the same time, she would say to governments and powers things they didn’t want to hear: “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.” This and similar sayings of hers offended many, but then Christ also offended many, not because He was setting out to offend them, but because He wanted to save their souls. He offended the Jews in today’s Gospel to such an extent that they intended to throw Him from the cliff, “but He slipped through the crowd and walked away”.

So you are called to be a prophet in the world today. This is your mission. Our Lord is constantly trying to reach others through us. Who in your life needs to hear the message of Christ? Promise Our Lord that when the opportunity presents itself, you will courageously speak the truth in love.

Fr Paul Gillham, IC

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