The word of God for this Sunday exhorts us to witness our faith. We shouldn’t be afraid of standing for what’s right and just. In a way, that’s what it’s all about being a prophet –of course, not without persecution.
Show me your way Lord!
Bible readings Jeremiah 20: 10-13 Psalm 69: 8-10, 14, 17, 33-35 Romans 5: 12-15 Matthew 10: 26-33
A popular prophet today
Today the word prophet seems to be quite popular. Some people call themselves prophets and crowds flock to them. What do they seek from such prophets: how to act justly? How to love sincerely? How to be righteous? More often than not people are looking for something else, which be betrays the notion they have of a prophet, quite different from the meaning we find in the bible.
We think of a prophet as someone who foresees and foretells the future. Someone looking for his or her better half will go and consult the prophet; when we are in financial difficulties, if business is not running well or we can’t find a job –we go to the prophet. Certainly, he knows what we would like to hear and he will tell us of the better days of prosperity that are just around the corner –so keep praying. He will also assure us of our spouse-to-be just in the pipeline. Indeed, you would get the impression as though such prophet had future-penetrating lenses. With such assuring promises, we are tranquilised from our anxiety. However, I just wonder the difference between such kind of prophet and a fortune-teller. Certainly, that’s not the kind of prophet Jeremiah was –the kind we are called to be. But then what?
A prophet, man of his place and time
A prophet is not a man who has codes that enable him to access privileged information about the future neither is he a man who transports people from real life to some fictitious, exotic lands. He’s a real person in the real world.
A prophet is a man who listens, both to God and to the world. Thanks to that, he can accompany his brothers and sisters in discerning and acting for a better tomorrow. Because of his capacity to listen and to discern, he reads the signs of his time and place and thus he’s able to blow the whistle should he see you taking a wrong path. He can also confirm you if you are going the right way. Knowing what he stands for, he does not let himself be swayed the wind of the mob; he’s faithful to what he discerns as God’s will. The effort he makes living humanly can be embarrassing to others, hence, he become a target of scorn. He’s just far from being popular. That’s the case with Jeremiah.
Prophet Jeremiah, persona non grata
According to the first Reading Jeremiah, as prophet, is not someone who bathes in applause neither is he someone to whom crowds will flock. He’s rather abandoned to himself because he speaks the hard truth that his people don’t want to hear. Consequently, he’s isolated and everyone seeks his downfall. What a lonely job to be true prophet!
Jeremiah, nevertheless, does not give in to mob pressure. He remains steadfast thanks to his trust in God.
If we compare the time of Jeremiah and today, perhaps we would be right to say humanity has not changed much. Even today, how many people have the humility of accepting to be corrected? Are whistle-blowers better off today? There are still persons who suffer the fate of Jeremiah, at times even worse.
The Jeremiahs of our time
People who expose corruption, abuse of power and the injustice in our society today become easy targets of persecution, if they are not eliminated completely. It’s the case of human rights activists and journalists, to mention but just some. In the end, we risk having a muted society in the face of thriving evils. We know the truth but we keep quiet to save our skin. In that silence innocent people find themselves behind bars while criminals walk freely in our streets. Besides, aren’t there times when we have watched neighbours’ marriage collapsing just before our eyes? Why do we remain silent?
Persecution from personal interests
Readings of this Sunday will probably make us think of people in different places who are persecuted because of their faith or values for which they stand. Indeed, we carry all such persons in our thoughts and prayers. However, it’s not just persecutions out there that paralyse us. In fact, many of we are in places where we are free to express ourselves and live according to our faith without any danger. Yet, we may not be that free to witness Christ.
Just think of that moment you didn’t speak out the truth: was it because of external threats? Indeed, there are times when we sacrificed the truth and our faith for the sake of protecting our self-interest. The need to gain some favours may block us from living fully our Christian vocation.
Live your faith, don’t be afraid!
That’s why this Sunday’s gospel comes as an assurance. Jesus tells his disciples not to live in fear; they are in good hands of the loving father. Their happiness does not lie in their manoeuvres that they can play here and there. Jesus recommends to them a relationship of trust in God. He recommends the same to us.
Let’s then be proud of who are as Christians and be bold to witness Christ in our daily life. Indeed, let’s seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness; the rest will be poured abundantly in our laps (cf. Mt 6:33).
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