Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday in the 17th Week of Ordinary Time (II)
Memorial of St. John Vianney – Priest
Survival and Prophecy
Readings: Jeremiah 26:1-9; Psalm 69:5, 8-10, 14; Matthew 13:54-58

In these trying times in which we live, it is easy to get caught up in the ongoing effort to meet all the demands on our time and energy. It can be so tiring trying to meet all our obligations. And yet it seems we have to keep going at breakneck speed simply to survive – to secure our place in the world. Even our religion, our Christian faith, can often become a matter of obligation and survival. As with our secular responsibilities, it seems we need also to satisfy our religious obligations in order that we may secure our place in heaven. But is this all there is to it? Is ours simply a religion of survival?

Our readings present us with another perspective. They invite reflection on prophecy. What are some of its characteristics? First, prophecy is a response to a real need. The people in the first reading worship in the Temple of the Lord without understanding. They need Jeremiah’s call to repentance. The same can be said of the people in the gospel, to whom Jesus speaks. And this word is not proclaimed at the prophet’s whim. The prophet receives it from God with the command to proclaim it. It is a divine imperative. You must speak the words I have commanded you to tell them; do not omit one syllable. Sadly, however, the prophetic ministry often provokes scorn and rejection. They would not accept him. And yet, the prophet is called to continue his God-given mission and so to win salvation not just for himself, but also for those to whom he is sent.

Are the times in which we live any different from those of Jeremiah and Jesus? Clearly, the voice of the prophet is needed now, perhaps more than ever. But who are the prophets of our day? The natural reaction of many to this question is perhaps immediately to look around at others. And yet, is every Christian not called to be a prophet in his or her own unique way? Is each of us not part of a Church that is called to be a prophetic sign to the world? If so, then we need somehow to move beyond our religion of survival towards one of prophecy. Even as we go through the daily grind, we need somehow to find the time and space for God’s word to address us and impel us. Ironically, the survival of our world -- as much as our own -- depends upon it...

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