Shared Homily Starter
Today is one of those times when the readings seem to fit together beautifully. For me, today's readings form a sort of, “User's Guide for Prophets” or “Prophesying 101”.
What is a prophet? In Biblical terms, a prophet is not one who predicts the future. Rather, a prophet is one who critiques their current society using futuristic terms or futuristic imagery. They call attention to deviations from God's plan for a just world. In today's world, we call them economic, environmental and social justice activists, liberation theologians. They feel impelled to speak truth and some even use science fiction writing and film as the vehicle for prophetic truths.
In today's first reading, God is talking not only to Ezekiel but to us. Today, just as in Ezekiel's day, people are transgressing against God. But instead of a 'nation of rebels', rebellion against God has has taken on global dimension because of commercialization and the systematic normalization of greed. As believers, we are called to speak truth to the powers that perpetuate this situation. What is the truth that we are called to speak? It is to cry out against any and all injustice, wherever it is.
Through our commitment to live in accordance with God's will, we are charged with speaking God's truth. We must speak out for climate and environmental justice for the Earth, our home. We must speak out for racial equality and for economic and social justice for our relatives, that is, all of humanity. We are called to speak out whether or not we are heard; whether or not we encounter those who refuse to hear us. We are charged by God to be prophets.
The second reading addresses our feelings of not being good enough or smart enough or whatever enough to be prophets. Like Paul, we too have our weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. Our foibles should serve to curb any self-righteousness we might lean towards. But more importantly, through the admission of our powerlessness and weakness to God and to each other, powerlessness and weakness are transformed into a whole and healthy and healing power rooted in God's justice.
Similarly, we know that Christ resides in the collective or community as well as in each and everyone one of us. It is our 'we-ness' in Christ that strengthens us. Gratitude for our we-ness enables each of us to join Paul when he says, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul's words “for the sake of Christ” implies and should be understood also as “for, with and in the community.” The one beneficial offshoot of globalization is we now know that “community” is to be understood as the global community because we are related to all that is.
But just because we know we are related to all that is, it doesn't mean that others agree with us. And so, today's Gospel tells us that as prophets, we can expect to be rejected by the very people whom we thought should be our allies. The gospel also reinforces the encouragement given in the first reading. We speak the truth and try to teach regardless of whether or not our message is received or heard. We speak—and just maybe—our message may help to cure the ignorance of at least a few people.
For example, how often do we hear people we dearly love say things like,
- “Why don't they just get over it? or,
- “Why should we taxpayers have to foot the bill for.... whatever?”
As prophets and speakers of truth, we must be combination history teachers and proponents of the return to the philosophy of the common good. Most of us move in many different circles. Like Jesus, even though we may be “amazed” by the refusal of some to hear what we are saying, we must move on and keep on.
As prophets we are called to speak the truth. Speaking, like preaching doesn't always call for words. We can speak the truth by the way we live our lives. We speak truth by living free. When we pour or invest our energy into the well-being of people, places and things rather than acquiring power over people, places and things, we are free. When we resist the societal norm of gluttonous consumption, we exercise freedom. With freedom comes the ability to see that for each of us, our personal well-being is tied to the well-being of the Earth and all its inhabitants. With freedom comes the ability to speak truth whether anyone chooses to hear us; to speak truth regardless of our own weaknesses; and to speak truth even when we are ridiculed by our families and friends. That, my relatives is Prophesying 101; that is what the Spirit said to me through today's readings.
Take a moment, then please share your thoughts.