HOMILY FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: THE CHALLENGES OF A PROPHET
BY: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 14 2022
Every Christian is called into the office of prophecy by the virtue of his/her calling. I encounter people who say that they have calling to do some sorts of ministry because they had a dream or a mad man told them, or a ‘man or woman of God’ told them so. I always grinned whenever they told me that. I would wonder why they didn’t know that they are prophets through the grace of baptism. Why would they wait for some external sign or event to tell them so? For the fact that we all are called to tell forth the Gospel of Truth, we are prophets. Prophets are simply the harbingers of truth; and God is Truth. Whenever you speak the truth and fight to make the truth prevail in your community or family, you are exercising your prophetic office.
The problem is that the world doesn’t like the truth because the truth is like light that reveals the evil of darkness and judges the evil intents and deeds of men. This is the singular reason why a prophet must be hated and discriminated against.
In the case of Jeremiah, he refuses to be bought over by the attractive favors being enjoyed by the priestly and prophetic class in Judah’s society. It is a time when majority of the voices speak of peace and prosperity. It is a time of prophetic darkness, when the prophets are blind and deaf to the leadings of the Spirit. It is a time when majority matters more than a single individual. Why would the words of “destruction” from Jeremiah matter to King Zedekiah, when any other prophet in Judah is speaking of “peace?” This will show us that the popularity of an opinion does not guarantee its veracity. After all, Jeremiah is right, and the other prophets are wrong because Jeremiah is perfectly aligned with God’s counsel. The other prophets are aligned with their pockets.
The princes charge Jeremiah for his “demoralizing” oracles which have weakened the arms of the soldiers fighting to resist the incursive forces of Babylon. They need him silenced. They seek the consent of the puppet King, Zedekiah, who gives them liberty to do with Jeremiah however they please. This figurehead attitude sees Jeremiah inside the pit of mud, where a slow death is intended for him. Whenever those in authority fail to take charge with wise counsel, the righteous is roped into the well of mud to perish. And this is the reason for the ever rising cases of insecurity in societies.
A prophet can be opposed in his own family. In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is called crazy by his ‘brothers’. That may be the reason he says at one place that his family consists of those who hear the word of God and keep it. This is also why Jesus says that He has come to bring division instead of peace. The peace referred to here is not the ultimate or authentic peace but a sort of “appeasement’ or a pacifist’s manner of peace. This kind of peace will bring about compromise in standards of faith.
The second reading shows us the way to go when we are being buffeted by oppositions of faith, and challenged against proclaiming the words of truth. The way to go is to look unto Jesus who is the model of all prophets; in whom is the Spirit of Prophecy; the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). He forsook the shame of the cross, and focused on the honour in store for him at God’s right hand. St Paul, also chooses that path, when he says that there is one thing he does: forsaking all that is behind (this includes all the trials, persecutions, hardships and worldly influences), and reaching forward to things ahead. Another thing that should encourage us are the testimonies of many witnesses of faith that have gone before and yet surround us – the martyrs and saints of God who kept the faith till the end. You are called to be part of the struggle of establishing the reign of Justice and truth in our world!
Happy Sunday to you!