We grow our faith not by being a good person, but by prophetic actions of kindness which empower others


We grow our faith not by being a good person, but by prophetic actions of kindness which empower others

Mother Teresa once said: “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.”  The work of the evil spirits in our world is to achieve two things: to divide people doing good, and to unite people doing bad.

So, when a prophet stands up to speak, expect opposition.  The question is: who is a prophet?  The answer in the First Reading is the one who speaks the word that comes true.

The first prophets we meet in life are our parents.  We can all remember the many times mum or dad told us: don’t do that or you’ll hurt yourself!  Then, we ignore them, and five minutes later we start crying and ask for help.

Our bosses become prophets of sorts when, as young adults starting our work career, we struggle to conform to the discipline of keeping time; others might argue with the boss about how we should do things: come late again and you will lose your job!

In our Gospel today, we hear an evil spirit speaking through a person in the congregation with Jesus.  People were moved by the teachings Jesus gave, but the evil spirit felt threatened.  We see how Jesus cured the person by expelling the evil spirit.

Often we look at these parables as abstract, not really touching me because I’m not possessed! But is that really true?  In our Gospel sharing this week, there were several examples given by our youth members where it is happening in our daily lives.

One youth shared about his experience in a Government office where he recommended some changes to make things more efficient and reduce expenses.  But there was opposition to his suggestion by several people and the change never happened.  As he said, “in private business, we were always looking for ways to reduce expenses.”

Initially, there was some negativity towards him for suggesting the improvements but, later, even some of the same negative people starting showing him respect.

If we look at the gospel story, we see Jesus saying good things: today we see the youth member making good suggestions, and speaking the truth. Then the opposition and negativity toward Jesus came: reflected in the selfish co-workers wanting to continue inefficient practices so they can take home something ‘extra.’

Now, given the parallel example given above, can we look at our own lives and see where we are like the evil spirit, resisting change for the good of the community?

Is there an element of selfishness in the way we do things? In which case we would be working for the evil spirit.

Are we argumentative when people suggest new ways of doing things?  Or are we open?  Is our arguing like the loud cry of the possessed man in the Gospel? Our stubbornness and anger cause us ‘convulsions’ before we finally accept a better way.

Now, let us reflect on the exclamations of the people about the teachings of Jesus and how they felt his authority.  Where did Jesus get this authority?  I suggest it was because he did many things to help other people: we can say we can’t do miracles like Jesus did.  However, the deeper authority of Jesus comes not from the spectacular miracles, but his presence with the people, working with their challenges: Oblates like to say, we are always close to the people.

People will listen and respect those who suggest change, when they observe the change-makers serving others.  Jesus was not like the scribes who remained distant from the people, and only spoke words to them about what they should and should not do.

What about us?  Do we want to see change in our world, in our community or in our family? Then ask ourselves, am I like the scribes just talking, or am I like Christ who serves others?

Are you a prophet?  If not, why not?  Christians increase in faith and hope when we live our lives in prophetic service.  But it is not easy!  Fr Richard Rohr OFM, shared once that he has seen many churches named Christ the King, but very few named Christ the Prophet.

What sort of a prophet am I, are you?  God wants to speak good things to others through us, in order to empower others, and even ourselves in the process.

Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary,” are words usually attributed to St Francis of Assisi.  It means that proclaiming the Gospel by example is more virtuous than actually proclaiming with our voices.

When we fail to share our faith, we run the risk of losing our faith and hope.  Being a good person is only the first step in a Christian life.  To safeguard our faith we need to exercise the prophetic ministry of Christ which we were all baptised in: “As Christ was anointed priest, prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.

By Gerard Conlan, OMI