HEARING THE PROPHETS

Thursday, 28th Week in Ordinary Time          

            Jesus criticizes the lawyers for building monumental tombs for the prophets whom their ancestors killed, thereby participating in their sinful deeds. According to John Craghan’s commentary on this passage, Jesus seems to be implying that they will inflict a similar fate on him, God’s last and definitive prophet. God’s wisdom, however, will not be compromised. Unless this generation rejects the past, they will bear responsibility for all the injustices inflicted on the prophets from the first (Abel) to the last (Zechariah) murders in their Scripture.

            God’s prophets continue to be ‘murdered’ in our time – or, at the very least, their message is vehemently rejected. Why? Because prophets do not conform to our preconceived ideas of ‘credible’ people who can speak the truth. We hardly listen to somebody who has lesser credentials than us. Also because prophets always come to us with demands: repent and be converted, make God the center of your life, fix your eyes on the Kingdom, take care of the poor. And also because prophets disturb us.

            Today’s gospel alerts us to the need to listen attentively to the message of modern prophets and act on it. These prophets summon us to open our windows to other cultures and accept the challenges it brings. They call us to work for peace based and social justice and to promote total human development. They challenge our way of life that is contrary to the Gospel and they call for simplicity in our lifestyle. They tell us to leave our small worlds and comfort zones and to reach out to our marginalized brethren. They keep reminding us that we are not owners of the things we have; we are only God’s stewards.

            Modern prophets, by word and deed, address our conscience. Not to heed them is to court disaster. Hence, we must give up our preconceived notions of where or from whom we can hear the truth and be ready to accept it in many disguises. We must listen to and accept the challenges and demands of modern prophets and respond to them accordingly. We must allow ourselves to be disturbed by them and be ready to leave our comfort zones.

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