Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
February 3, 2019
In business we call them consultants. In politics, lobbyists. In academics they are referred to as guest lecturers. If you want to convince your clients or constituency or classroom of something, to move them in a particular direction or to justify an opinion, you call in the expert. Even the church has experts in many fields. Fortunately, the world is not short of experts. In fact, some of us consider ourselves experts; just ask us. We have the answers to solve the nation’s economy, to clean up our government and to fix everything that’s wrong with the church. Experts can tell us what needs to happen with “those” people and the problem with the kids today. There is no shortage of experts in the world; what we are short of are prophets. And there is a difference.
Prophets may not be the most polished orators or hold the most prestigious degrees, and because they challenge us, they are not necessarily the most popular. They don’t pretend to have all the answers, nor do they do they stand before us with worldly power or might. Unlike experts, who are motivated by many things, true prophets are motivated by one thing and one thing only: for the good of the people before which they stand. Our faith history is filled with stories of prophets - men and women sent by God. Some willing welcome the call; others do not.
When Jesus came on the scene, his neighbors were well acquainted with the prophetic voice sent by God. His was another voice among voices, stirring the waters of complacency and challenging the acceptable behavior of his time. He compared himself to the beloved prophets of the past, sent to bring glad tidings to the poor and release to prisoners. So when he came into his hometown, among his own people, he was an unwelcomed voice among his own clan, as prophets often are.
This voice was different. His prophesy rang out with a different tenor because it was a not a voice that spoke on behalf of God, it WAS God’s voice. It was the voice of love, a love deeper and more profound and more powerful than any other force the world had ever heard.
Each of us is called upon to take our rightful role as that prophetic voice of love in our time, in our homes, in our hometown - not for our glory, but for God’s. As the Body of Christ, we are called upon to be the primary collective prophetic voice in the world today. Not by force or power, not with money or another parish program; our prophetic voice today must be that same voice of Christ, the voice of love.
We must be the first to love those who are difficult to love, the first to forgive. We must be the first to welcome those on the outside and the first to reach out to those who are lost. In love we use our power and our wealth of resources to move mountains that block the path of justice. In love we use our voice to cry out for life. In love we offer our bodies in willing and humble sacrifice in service of others.
Prophets do not ignite change with self-righteousness or temper; we do it with patience and kindness. We don’t try to change the world because we our own self-interest; we do so that the weakest and the lowliest might be lifted up. We will gain nothing in rejoicing over someone’s failure or wrongdoing but rather we gain everything if we bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things in love.
Because love never fails.