First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:1-13; Gospel: Luke 4: 21-30.
A TRUE PROPHET IS A LOVING AND CARING PERSON
The Almighty God created humanity out of love. When humanity had fallen due her disobedience, God did not abandon her, rather He did everything possible to reconcile her back to Himself. In the past, He used many people as His spokesmen or prophets in order to carry out this mission. But these prophets were rejected and despised by the people He loved and wanted to save from eternal damnation. Nevertheless, God never turned His back on humanity because of their hostile reactions, rather He continued to show her love.
The First Reading highlights the call of Prophet Jeremiah who was one of the spokesmen chosen by God to proclaim His words to the nations. Initially, this task unnerved Jeremiah, but God encouraged and reassured him that He would be with him despite the hostile reactions of the people: “Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:18-19).
Meanwhile, last Sunday, the Jews listened to the Word of God with maximum attention and reverence, and thus were deeply touched, enlightened, empowered, and filled with great joy. But in today’s Gospel, we have a different scenario. When Jesus preached the Word of God to His own people, His Words caused a strong reaction as they were listening to Him: some were positively fascinated, while others, due to overfamiliarity, despised and rejected Him, and even tried to kill Him. Being surprised at their lack of faith, Jesus told them that, “… a prophet is not honoured in his own country” (Luke 4:24). In spite of that, Jesus Christ never declined from showing them love.
Unfortunately, due to overfamiliarity, jealousy, prejudice, pride etc; many have lost their God given opportunities which they would have benefited from talented people very close to them. Some even try to pull such persons down through castigation, backbiting, gossips, conspiracy, etc, because they know them very well. This is one of the reasons why things go wrong in the society, because those who would have impacted positively for the growth and development of that particular society are being ignored, rejected and despised. Hence, no much success would be recorded.
Undoubtedly, our world today prefers lies rather than truth, because truth is always bitter to accept, swallow and digest. The moment you speak truth, you lose your popularity. One of the consequences of speaking the truth is rejection. Consequently, many people shy away from speaking the truth and against the evil bedeviling our society for fear of being maligned, rejected or even killed, thereby allowing injustices to prevail.
Moreover, by the virtue of our baptism, we have become priests, kings and prophets. As prophets, we are called to courageously proclaim the Word of God and speak against the ills of our society as well as the injustices meted out on innocent people without being afraid of whose ox is gored. However, according to St. Paul in the Second Reading, this gift of prophecy can rightly be exercised through love. If one has the gifts of oratory, healing, wisdom, or to pull down mountains, but does not love his or her fellow human being, then that gift is of no value at all. Every gift we have comes from God (James 1:17), so that we can use them charitably for the good of others. For a true prophet is a loving and caring person.
Therefore, we must stand up and speak out for truth, justice and right. As Christians, we cannot but speak the truth always, for God is truth. Telling lies in order to please people implies that we prefer to follow the devil, the father of lies. Certainly, people will fight against us for proclaiming and living the life of Christ, but they will never prevail, because the Almighty God has made us ‘pillars of iron, fortified cities, wall of brass, and He is always with us. For one with God is majority (Romans 8:31).
Finally, there are some people whom God might have placed in our lives to help us, do we reject or despise them because we are close to them or because we see them as enemies? Definitely, in our daily lives as Christians, there will always be moments of trial, misunderstanding and rejection especially by those very close to us. Nevertheless, we should not allow their shenanigans to discourage us, rather we must always have Faith in God and continue to show them love just like St. Paul averred in the second reading. For God loves and cares for us so much, and gave us His only begotten son in order to save us from eternal damnation. He has never denied us His blessings and mercies, but continues to forgive us all the time even when we continue sin against Him. So, we are called to always show kindness and mercy to our fellow human beings.
May the Almighty God protect you from the hands of those who plot evil against you, and give you the grace to always be patient in your challenges and also to proclaim His message to all with care and love, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Peace of Christ be with you…
Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.