Theme: Over Familiarity
In our world today many people call themselves prophets. Though they lack the proper spiritual preparation for such a daunting ministry, they prowl around deceiving God’s people. Some even go to the extent of calling themselves “fortune-teller” prophets because they predict the future. In today’s first reading, however, Ezekiel gives a kind of mission statement and litmus test for all prophets. From the Hebrew standpoint, prophets are simply God-inspired humans who give good and bad messages to God’s people. We know they are inspired because Ezekiel explains it this way, “The spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me”.
We can therefore deduce that prophets are receptacles for the Holy Spirit. They do not preach from their own minds and imaginations, but directly from God. These messages are neither intellectually seasoned, nor do they have hidden agendas.
From the statement, “Son of man, I am sending you…” we learn that prophets are sent. They are not just given a message and told to keep quiet. They are sent to pass on messages to very challenging groups as epitomised in the story of Moses sent to liberate the Israelites from Egypt amid Pharaoh’s great persecutions. Jonah was also sent on a difficult mission to Nineveh to non-believers and foreign conquerors.
In most cases, they are persecuted, insulted and even rejected. This is why in his Second Letter to the Corinthians St. Paul says he is content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints for Christ’s sake. St. Paul sees that it is often in human weakness that we can be the strongest in our spiritual lives. Whether prophets are listened to or not, whether they are persecuted or not, God assures them that “this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them”.
At the Beginning of His public ministry, Jesus made it clear to His listeners that he was a receptacle of the Holy Spirit and that He had been sent (cf. Luke 4:18). Like other prophets, from the beginning of His ministry Jesus encountered opposition to His preaching and activities. Like the Old Testament prophets, Jesus communicated and revealed God’s message to the people; a message which was often unpopular and rejected, not only by the elite and religious leaders who had their interests to protect, but also by ordinary people, even, as seen in today’s gospel, Jesus’ own family members.
Jesus’s family members found it difficult to accept His popularity in Galilee in so short a time. So they therefore rejected Him altogether. The few who knew Him were too used to His family to believe in Him. Today’s text is also a challenge to our faith. Is it not possible that after many years in the church we have lost reverence for God? What is your personal experience? Has your familiarity with God or the things of God become a barrier in recognising His divinity? Be careful!
By Rev. Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh Basebang, cmf
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