Thursday 28 May 2015

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Throughout sacred scripture, we have come across many different prophets. Some of us may recall them by name and even quote some of the things they may have said. Even today, we come across some people who claim to be prophets. Sometimes their claims are true, other times their claims turn out to be false. But if we consider a moment: who is a prophet? How do we discern whether a person is a prophet or not? A prophet is a messenger, mouthpiece or spokesman of God. He comes to recognise the will of God for his time, that is, what God is trying to say to His people in a certain time, under certain circumstances and in a certain place. A prophet is not one who keeps silent, but is expected to receive and proclaim the message of God. If the prophet fails to proclaim the message or shirks his responsibility, God will raise other prophets to undertake the task.

Being a prophet is not easy and is certainly not a joke or a laughing matter. Sometimes, the prophet is asked to give a message of hope and encouragement to God's people. Other times, the prophet is given the task to challenge and condemn the people for their sinfulness, by being the conscience of the nation. This causes the prophet to face opposition and rejection, since everyone likes to hear praises and words of encouragement and no one likes to hear criticism. But such criticism is necessary for us to grow. If we are not open to criticism and are not honest with ourselves, we would then be blind to where God wants to lead us.

When we look at today's Gospel, we are reminded that Jesus speaks of the many prophets in Israel's history who were rejected by their own people and sometimes welcomed by others. Jesus too is such a prophet, and since He chose to reprimand his listeners in today's Gospel, Jesus too is rejected. The Word of God is a double-edged sword which cuts both ways. We must be prepared to hear words of encouragement as well as words that would challenge our present way of life. But are we willing and humble enough to do so?

Fulfilling a prophetic role is certainly difficult, since no one wants to be the bad guy. It seems much easier to talk about people behind their backs then to confront them. As a prophetic people, we are called to confront and challenge each other. Confrontation does not mean that we have no love. Instead, love is the reason why we must confront and act the prophet. In the second reading, we are reminded that love is always patient and kind, it is never jealous, never boastful or conceited, or rude or selfish. A prophet is not someone who is harsh, mean, wicked and heartless, but so full of love for God and His people that he is prepared to risk being rejected by his own people and face the consequences of speaking the truth. May we willingly, patiently and humbly accept the challenge to become prophets, with love as our motivation, since without love, we cannot be true prophets, but we may only end up as complainers and critics. Let us pray for the strength and courage to speak the truth with love.

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