For our communities to be happy tomorrow … it requires the truth today, by continuing to love in spite of rejection


For our communities to be happy tomorrow … it requires the truth today, by continuing to love in spite of rejection

I once heard Fr Richard Rohr OFM say that there are many churches named as Christ the King but very few as Christ the Prophet.  It says something.  We are all called to be prophets because, in Baptism, we received an anointing in which we were “incorporated into Christ who is anointed priest, prophet, and king” (CCC, 1241).

This is important because most definitions of a Prophet state that they are divinely inspired by God to deliver a specific message to the people.  Not many of us see ourselves as divinely inspired, but through Baptism, that is what we are.

But, what is a prophet?  They are truth tellers about today’s reality, who warn us about tomorrow: and how to avoid some of the negative consequences of our ways of living today, by changing our ways today.

We don’t usually like prophets!  So we look for ways to avoid them (eg. climate issues).  This is why so many prophets suffer after giving their message: we want to know if they are serious.  Which is why Jesus had to die on the cross, not to mention most of the Apostles and St Paul.

However, after the Apostles, there were a great multitude of martyrs who were prophets simply because they were Christians.  People like you and I.  And it is continuing today: “one in seven Christians today is persecuted.”  (March, 2023, statement by Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachuku, Vatican Observer to the United Nations.)

It’s not much of an invitation for each of us to be a prophet today!  Which is why Jesus was so sharp to St Peter in today’s Gospel.  He had to shock Peter, and us, to realise that our good future will not come without some suffering.

Which is why Christians call themselves “the resurrection people”: we look beyond the pain and struggle, knowing we are not alone and that, with God’s help all will be well.

Seduction is normally used in relation to sexual matters.  But not in our First Reading today.  Seduction is the gentle process of encouraging someone to go a certain way, to do a certain act or give up certain freedoms.  Seduction is both invitation and the promise of some reward.

The most important “prophets” in our communities are Mums and Dads, who deserve our gratitude and prayerful support.

Being the leader of a family is very challenging.  Especially when children reach the teenage years.  If you are a parent, today, Jeremiah gives you permission to complain: my wife/ husband seduced me, into marriage: I never knew it was going to be this hard!

However, most of us know those teenage years pass by and, if we have been firm but fair, life becomes beautiful as they leave home and start families of their own.

Back to reality for the younger people: how can they be prophets?  This week, one youth shared with the group that a lady posted online how she will remain chaste until marriage.  She was shocked at all the negative comments people wrote on the lady’s post.

Being virtuous is not easy, and yet it is a great “silent” witness to people around them.  And it is an important virtue for individuals and others.  It’s sad to hear young people dying of HIV and sexual diseases.  With, some, knowingly infecting others because of their selfish desires.

Reflecting on what Christ expressed in our Gospel, we see that Christian leadership calls us to stay the path: to persevere and promote the truth: and that this will require some sacrifice.

Here it is very important to speak the truth with love, not with condemnation or anger.  On the issue of sexual morals, it may be that many people are not chaste because they are lonely and looking for “love”.  They are searching for love today without concern for tomorrow.

So, as we speak the truth we are also called to help people feel welcome, valued and loved.  They, in turn, will then wish to show concern for others… we hope!  Maybe after some time.

Jeremiah’s complaints, are a reminder to all of us that we need “spiritual” directors.  People we trust, who listen to our struggles, and help us make decisions on reality, and not on feelings. Feelings come and go, but decisions made on “feelings” can cause a lifetime of suffering.

Let’s pray that God reminds us many times, that evil only increases when good people keep quiet.  As we see bad things happen to others, history should teach us that eventually they will do bad things to us, also.

By Gerard Conlan, OMI