4 Sun OT Yr C (2016)
Holy Spirit Parish/UK Newman Center
Being a prophet is serious business…
First, there is the simple fact that prophets get rejected by the people to whom they’re called to preach. Rejected, marginalized, ignored, ridiculed… In Old Testament times, prophets were thought of the way we think of the guy walking around with a sign warning of alien abduction.
Then there’s this business of being responsible for sharing God’s message – not my message or your message – not Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump’s message, but God’s message. Being a prophet means setting aside what I think and what I want to say and replacing that with what God wants to say. It means getting honest enough to recognize that putting my agenda before God’s agenda is tantamount to recreating God into my own image, the most devastating of sins against the First Commandment possible.
That requires a sincere, honest, and tangible relationship with God – not a degree in theology or lots of well thought out opinions and well crafted statements. Being a prophet transcends a desire to be nice and preach a message everyone wants to hear, and requires a real relationship with the One whose message the prophet is called to carry. After all, how can the prophet know God’s message if the prophet doesn’t know God. Notice, I didn’t say know about God, or even know about God’s message; the prophet must know God.
And what’s perhaps the worst of all? “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Why? Because often the homefolks have no desire for the truth; they’d much rather we all just get along. And so they become filled with fury and rise up to drive the prophet out of town and hurl them down the hill.
Being a prophet is serious business…so it’s a good thing we’re not called to be prophets, isn’t it? As much work as it takes and as dangerous as the payoff is, it just doesn’t seem worth it. It’s a good thing we’re not called to be prophets. Except…friends, that’s exactly what you and I are called to be.
At your baptism, the priest or deacon anointed your head with Sacred Chrism and prayed, “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you” – that’s you, friend – each and every one of you – “so may you live always as members of his body, sharing everlasting life.” Meaning that, just as Jesus Christ was priest, prophet, and king – you, too, are priest, prophet and king. If you can hear the sound of my voice you’re called to be a prophet. And being a prophet is serious business. There are risks, and the homefolks might try to throw you down a cliff. You have to be humble enough to set yourself and your agenda aside, and invest in a relationship with Jesus Christ that is real enough and deep enough to have some sense of what He wants you to preach. It require holy boldness to speak the truth more than tickle the ears of others by saying what they want to hear and avoiding truth they prefer to ignore.
How, exactly, are we to try to do that? One simple, single, little, life-changing word. Love. Love. Ask any parent – love means saying the difficult thing even when it doesn’t want to be heard. Ask any spouse – love means being patient enough to listen and honest enough to speak the truth. Love is patient and kind – but rejoices in the truth, and will speak long and often and generously and repeatedly to communicate truth. And love never fails.
Friends – we’re all in this place called, each and every one of us, called to be prophets. To risk ridicule and walking out of step with those around us to preach the truth of God’s love and mercy, which has a face and a name, Jesus Christ. We’re called to stand for something when everyone around us is falling for everything, and the only way to pull that off is love. And even then…the homefolks might try to throw us down a cliff…
But do not fear – for what the Father said to Jeremiah applies directly to you, too: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you… They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Go – be a prophet for Christ – preach the Truth in love…you are called for this, and God is with you.