By Deacon Tom Maly
This week and next, we seem to hear a great deal about teachers and prophets. Today Ezekiel is being warned that his listeners won’t exactly be grateful to hear his message. Next week we hear from the prophet Amos. Not to give away the plot, but Amos didn’t get a such a great welcome.
I am struck by the phrase; “…..the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet.” Gentlemen, I think that it is vital we be aware that the Spirit lives in us based upon our having been Baptized and Confirmed, especially. Therefore we should be “on our feet” and prepared to be evidence of God’s presence in a fallen world.
It seems to me that the Spirit brought 2,500 Christians in Des Moines “to their feet” last Sunday as we demonstrated our concern about religious liberty being under threat. Unlike in some parts of the world, guns and tanks were not trained on those who marched. God help us, it will never come to that in our country.
In the Gospel, Jesus refers to himself as a prophet and laments the fact that those “in his native place … took offense at him”. In short, the hardhearted whom Zeke had been warned about in the first reading are present to Jesus. And, to add insult to injury, as the saying goes, it happened to Him among those who knew Him.
It’s a bit like celebrity culture in which we find ourselves — celebrity evinces extreme reactions in people, i.e. they either loved or loathed. Some must think pretty highly of Justin Bieber to camp out on the street for 2 or 3 days to see him! Throughout scripture we find Jesus experiencing this phenomenon — at some moments a rock star and other times being considered a criminal or crazy man.
The last line of the first reading gives us the key to the response we are to imitate if we find ourselves in that situation; “And whether they heed or resist … they shall know that a prophet (or a Knight of Columbus?) has been among them.”
It seems that among the Corinthians, there were some “hotshot” teachers going about bragging about their special knowledge or revelations from God. Human nature is such that folks can get caught up in that and suspend good judgment about the validity of the teaching these “prophets” are proclaiming.
Paul seeks to do two things in this piece of scripture. On the one hand, he is acknowledging that he has had special revelations from God. On the other Paul acknowledges having a “thorn” with which he has been afflicted. God has not relieved him of that thorn thereby helping Paul to realize that it is God’s work, not his, which is efficacious. I consider it a lesson in God keeping Paul humble.
Perhaps a quote by St Thomas More fits well here; “Reputation, fame, honor — what is all that but a breath of air from another person’s mouth, no sooner spoken but gone? Thus whoever finds delight in them is feeding on wind.”
It may be a good idea for us to examine our motives and look to God and those about us to keep us humble.
A belated Happy Independence Day to all and a special thanks this day and everyday to our active military and our veterans who have done so much to keep our freedoms intact.
[Thanks to Chaplain Tom Maly for sharing his thoughts on this week’s scripture readings.]