From the pastor’s desk
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time-Year C– Called to the prophetic vocation.
The fathers of the second Vatican Council tell us that by the virtue of our baptism, each Christian is called to be a prophet. Our prophetic vocation is a share in the Divine Mission of Jesus Christ who is eternal High Priest, Prophet and King. As followers of Christ, we are called to be the conscience and prophetic voice in society. We must always speak the truth, denounce evil, injustices and cry foul in situations when
Catholic and gospel values are contradicted and violated. Many times, as Christians we are afraid of standing up for the truth in order to defend what is right. Many times, in the name of political correctness, we do not do the good we are supposed to do. Many times in the name of freedom, we allow our brothers and sisters to go astray: we feel unconcerned asking like Cain, am I my brother’s keeper or am I my sister’s keeper. Like Ezekiel, God has stationed each of us as watchman or watchwoman to warn the erring ones so that they will desist from their wrong-doing. As a result of the seriousness of this responsibility, many times, it does not go so well with the prophet. The truth hurts whereas love heals. We must speak the truth with love. We must point out what is right with the power of our good examples in a loving way.
Today, the call of Jeremiah is held up for us to help us in how to go about our mission and responsibilities as contemporary prophets of God. Jeremiah was called to be a prophet during the reign of King Josiah of the Southern Kingdom of Judah from about 641 BC to about 609 BC. Called from the womb to be a prophet, his task was an enormous one. He would go where God sends him and say what God commands him. God would fortify him to be fearless and to be a ‘pillar of iron’ and ‘a wall of brass, a challenge to the whole society. Called by God, he relied on his promise of protection and deliverance.
The Old Testament vocation, mission and ministry of the prophets are continued and perfected in Jesus Christ and through him passed on to us his disciples and would-be disciples. Their characteristics are continued in Jesus as the mouth-piece of God as well as their fate. Jesus is the King of prophets and martyrs. At the same time, there is discontinuity, in that, they were mere human beings, whereas Jesus Christ is the Son of God who empowers his disciples and gives them the spirit of fortitude in the face of challenges and dangers.
Jesus, met a very hostile reaction from his contemporaries today in the synagogue. The people became infuriated and drove him out of their town, wanting to throw him off the cliff. The reason being that Jesus taught them with exceptional wisdom and did wonderful things that made them to show that familiarity breeds contempt; Jesus used this opportunity to remind them how their lack of faith, in their history led God while he punished Israel with famine, saved a Gentile widow and how God showed mercy by healing
Naaman a Syrian army general and leper, whereas, he did not do it for the many lepers in Israel.
Many times we want the preacher to tell us what we want to hear. We do not want the truth to be told because it is so bitter. But the truth has to be told. We have to speak the truth with love. That is why St. Paul tells us today what love is all about. God is love. Jesus shows us how to love. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends. We have to love like Jesus who laid down his life on the cross of Calvary and prayed: “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD