>“Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD! And whether they heed or resist, for they are a rebellious house, they shall know that a prophet has been among them” (Ez 2:4-5). This closing statement in the First Reading today captures the central message that runs through our Scriptures readings today: the challenges of our roles as prophets belonging to a prophetic Church.
The Gospel today gives an account of people in Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth who met Jesus but miss the opportunity to receive blessings from Him. They knew Jesus growing up in a poor family and so were unable to see beyond the human side of Him. They ridicule Him and remain unconvinced that He is God, even knowing of the miracles Jesus worked. Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith to the extent that he could do little for them saying, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
Have you ever had an experience close to this? One in which people respect you very well in your place of work, among your friends or in public, but your own family disrespects you and cannot see anything special about you? Do those of you who serve in different ministries have family members and friends who call you a hypocrite, make fun of your Catholic faith or remind you of your weaknesses? We often hear our family members or friends say, “I don’t go to church because there are too many hypocrites there.” If people confront you this way, tell them we always have room for one more hypocrite in the Church. If you have not had any of these experiences, as you go home today, invite all of your family members to an evening prayer. Then try to preach to them and see what happens.
At our baptism, we were anointed as priest, prophet, and king. Today we are invited to reflect on our roles as prophets, belonging to a prophetic Church. As prophets we are sent to preach the Good News of Christ and to speak the truth without fear. A prophet must expect resistance, and this resistance can sometimes lead to rejection by those closest to us. In the First Reading today, we heard how Ezekiel was warned by God that people will resist his message to them. However, God told him to go ahead and relate his message to them whether they accept it or not; they will know that they have a prophet living among them.
As Catholics, we belong to a Prophetic Church. The prophetic role of the church is not just to point out people’s sins to them, but also to offer the mercy of God. This is why we are the only Church that not only speaks the truth courageously all the time, but also offers the Sacrament of reconciliation and mercy of God.
Thank you and remain blessed,