The Prophet
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

There are times when things and events do not seem to work out for us. There are misunderstandings at home and in the office. Even our best friends do not seem to be on our side. People oppose or laugh at our plans. We experience a big letdown. We feel frustrated and disappointed.

Action starter: Are you trying to do something good despite oppositions?

The readings this Sunday speak of the reality of failure and disappointment in our life. The Gospel story is about Jesus being unaccepted even in his own town (Mk. 6:1-6). He had been succesfully healing and preaching in the surrounding towns. His relatives who heard of his activities were worried, “When his relatives heard of this, they set out to take charge of him, convinced he was out of his mind” (Mk. 3:21).

When he came to his own home town and began teaching in their own synagogue, his relatives and neighbors found him too much for them. Isn’t he only a carpenter’s son? By whose authority is he preaching? Did he study under a renowned rabbi? In our own time, the question would be, where did he earn his degree?

This is the lot of prophets. The first reading describes what a prophet has to face. When the Lord God called Ezekiel he was told about what would happen, “Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you” (Ez. 2:5). Still, the prophet has to say God’s word, “whether they heed or resist”.

St. Paul himself experienced personal difficulties in preaching God’s word. In his letters he mentioned being beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, and robbed in the course of his journeys. Beside these externaly-imposd hardships, he had to deal with a personal weakness which he described as a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7). Whether this was a chronic illness or a temperamental defect, scholars are not sure. What is certain is that Paul asked that he be delivered from this weakness and God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you.”

The preacher of the Word is not always appreciated. However, the word of God has to be preached even when it is unpopular. In a situation of armed conflict like what is happening in our neighboring province, the peacemaker has to say “Peace”. The conflicting parties, whether rebels or government, more often than not, ignore this appeal. In an environment of licentiousness and material consumption, the prophet says, “Simplify your life and your needs”. He would be considered out of step with the time. In a culture that promotes self-realization and self-convenience, the call for self-sacrifice is considered archaic.

Still, the prophet has to say the Word. This leads us to some questions. Are popular religiouss speakers really saying God’s Word or are they just entertaining people? On the other hand, we as listeners, do we prefer entertainers instead of prophets?

Where does the prophet get his or her authority? From his intimate relationship with God which gives him a “feel of God’s word”. There seems to be much leeway for subjectivity here, but modern prophets are also reminded to listen to those in authority such as bishops. This provides for balance in the church. Whether pleasing or displeasing, and whatever be the season, the Word has to be preached.