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Back Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Thursday, August 15, 2019
From the Desk of Fr. Ron…….
In civil conversation, especially at family gatherings it is often advised to stay away from speaking about politics or religion. That appears to be very sound advice for us currently, as we encounter such radical extremism in our political life and endure the sins and mistakes of the past and even the present in our church life.
The definitions of a “prophet” may be said to be: “one who utters divinely inspired revelations,” “one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight,” or “an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group.” The Bible features the preserved writings of a number of prophets both major: “those for whom we have preserved a larger volume of writings” and “minor” those whose preserved volume of writings is minimal. This weekend’s Biblical lessons begin with an episode from one of our major prophets, Jeremiah. Called to his vocation at an early life, Jeremiah is straightforward about the challenge of speaking as God wishes him to speak. Because of Jeremiah’s faithfulness to the challenging word of God, he bears the hostility of many of the people who attempt to punish him, rather than heed his challenging message. In the end the king intercedes and rescues Jeremiah, sparing his life.
Jesus offers some challenging words in our continual study of the Gospel of St. Luke., “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Luke 12:51). What happened to the little child adored by shepherds and laying in a manger? He grew up and taking on a prophetic vocation, He listens to the voice of God, His heavenly Father and speaks that word boldly in and most especially patterns those values in His intentional life.
We as followers of Jesus and His Gospel, are challenged to incorporate the values of God’s Kingdom as Jesus taught us in our speech and most especially in the everyday experiences of our lives. Our second Biblical lesson from our continued reading of the letter to the Hebrews reminds us that “…we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” and challenges us, “so let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us.” (Hebrews 12:1). The witnesses are those who persevered in speaking the Gospel truth and living it boldly among others. As the letter to the Hebrews challenges us: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” (Hebrews 12:4).
So, what does this mean for us in our world today? It means reflecting upon what is happening in our world and most especially our American society and speaking Gospel truth, whether convenient or inconvenient. The rise of and affirmation of bold expressions of hatred and bigotry, from elected officials to ordinary citizens is refashioning our society to be a most unwelcoming place; a place I don’t recognize. It cannot be that way among us in our assembly. We have to be a Church that welcomes all of every race and culture for we are “catholic.”
The diversity which I observe that is growing within our congregation will enrich and enable us to become a more authentic witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Having lived these values in our experience then, we are to challenge our society to the richness and truth of the Gospel values of God’s Kingdom. We have a long road ahead. As the letter to the Hebrews reminds us: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” (Hebrews 12:4).