Saturday 21 March 2015

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

How many of us are willing to speak the truth, even if it is difficult to accept or swallow? Some of us try to say things as nicely as possible, some of us try to beat around the bush, hoping that the other party would somehow get our message, but at the end of the day, we need to ask ourselves: as Christians, are we supposed to tell the truth, no matter how painful or difficult it may sound? Or are we supposed to keep the peace and make people happy, even if it means diluting the truth quite a bit. Some of you may be wondering: isn't it obvious that the truth must prevail? And yet, we still come across Christians who are unwilling to say it as it is; or they may say that the matter is not their concern or their business, and they rather not get involved; or they do not want to be the bad guy or bad girl. But is this what being a Christian is all about?

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we are reminded: "the faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World. (CCC 897)" Being in the prophetic office means that we are required to preach the Good News and to be witnesses to the truth. This means that if we are speaking the truth in love and for the sake of God, we should not be afraid of criticism or insults from others. St. Paul in today’s second reading reminds us that he is able to speak so eloquently only because of his confidence in God and not in himself, and he writes of God and of himself in this way: "My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.... that is why I am quite content with my weaknesses, and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and the agonies I go through for Christ’s sake. For it is when I am weak that I am strong."

Being in the prophetic office also means the person of the prophet is not what matters. The prophet may be weak, a failure or may have various faults and limitations, but all these do not matter. What matters is the message which needs to be delivered. If God wishes to use a prophet to deliver his message, he will surely give grace to his chosen one to perform the task. Moreover, it does not matter whether the other person or persons listen or not. The Lord reassured Ezekiel of this in the first reading: "Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them." Others may choose not to listen, but eventually the truth will prevail. We must leave it in the hands of God, the effect of the word spoken.

Ultimately, being in the prophetic office means a prophet and his message is never popular. The message is hard and the truth is painful to accept. There are people who do not like to hear the truth about themselves and they are resistant to change, since quite often such truth requires a change and conversion of heart. Such people prefer to remain as they are, keeping the status quo, or they only want to hear what is pleasing, not the truth. Sometimes, even the people from your own home town or people who think they know you well enough are among those most resistant to or are against the prophet and his message. This is the situation that Jesus went through in today's Gospel, where He was rejected by his own country men and relations.

At the end of the day, being in the prophetic office means the prophet needs to check oneself and ensure that the truth is spoken with love. We cannot speak the truth out of anger and revenge as that is not being prophetic. Such words uttered out of anger and revenge merely destroy rather than heal. Love is at the heart of being in the prophetic office.

Today, let us wake up to the fact that there are some of us perhaps who have neglected our role as prophets. We are called to be proclaimers of the Gospel, and that includes saying the truth, even to those we hold so dear. We cannot be followers of Christ and please everyone, and we should be prepared to face ridicule, persecution, or even be shunned by others, for the glory of God and to promote truth and justice.

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