Today, we continue to read from last Sunday’s gospel wherein Jesus picked the passage from the Book of Isaiah, describing the messianic time. At the end of the reading, Jesus declared, “Today, this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” The initial reaction of the townspeople was one of admiration and amazement. Then it turned into skepticism and resentment. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” Finally, it degenerated into fury and murderous rage. “They rose up, drove him out of the town… to hurl him down headlong.”
What happened? Why the sudden change of mood? The people’s initial euphoria about Jesus might have come from their realization that the Messiah could indeed be one of their own. They had earlier heard of Jesus’ fame as an eloquent preacher and a powerful miracle worker in Capernaum and in the whole of Galilee. They felt specially honored and became possessive of him. But soon Jesus made it clear that he was sent not only for them or for the Jews, but for all peoples; that God was not just their God, but the God of all nations. Reminding them of how the prophets, Elijah and Elisha, by-passed many needy Israelites to bestow God’s blessings on two non-Israelites did not only anger them but drove them to carry out their criminal intent on Jesus.
The first reading and the gospel put the prophet Jeremiah side by side with Jesus, the Prophet par excellence. Like Jeremiah, Jesus was consecrated in the (Virgin’s) womb and received the mission to be a “prophet to all nations.” Like Jeremiah, Jesus was met with hostility. “He came to his own, and his own received him not. (Jn 1:11) And like Jeremiah, Jesus was protected by God’s power, so that even as his townsfolks brought him to the edge of the hill to throw him down, “he passed through the midst of them and went away.”
By baptism, we have become one with Christ as members of his Body, the Church. Hence, we also share his mission as prophet. A prophet is one who speaks God’s message. Jesus is the perfect Prophet because he is the Word of God made flesh. As sharers of Christ’s prophetic mission, our first task is to live (incarnate) our faith as a witness to what we believe.
As prophets, we are called to proclaim the kingdom of God, a kingdom of truth, justice, holiness, love, peace… And because the world considers these values not only foreign but unacceptable, we experience the same hostility and rejection, as Jesus and Jeremiah did.
Like the prophets, we too can be discouraged and overwhelmed by the difficulty of the mission. We are consoled however by the assurance of God’s abiding presence and ready assistance in today’s readings. As with Jeremiah, God will also make of us “a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land… They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
These are all beautiful and inspiring thoughts, but how can I concretely live my prophetic calling? How can I be a bearer of God’s message? In many ways.
Allow me however to point out just one way - by being a defender and promoter of truth.