A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
Jesus said to them,
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
at the judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld.’
Whoever listens to you listens to me.
Whoever rejects you rejects me.
And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
Good News Reflection:
Every time we open our mouths to speak, we need to remember that we have a ministry of words. Always. Nothing that is vocalized can be deleted from the air before penetrating the minds of those who hear us. Even our tone of voice conveys a message. So, too, the silent words of emails and blogs.
Are our words always holy? Is there any valid reason why our words shouldn’t always be holy?
Jesus is our example of words and tones that reflect the kingdom of God.
He says to us in our Gospel reading today, “Anyone who listens to you is listening to me, and anyone who rejects you is rejecting both me and the Father who sent me.” See how important our words are? Do others hear Jesus every time we open our mouths? Well, shouldn’t they be able to? Did Jesus ever take a break from speaking the words of his Father?
As Christians, we serve as God’s prophets. When we were baptized, we were joined to the ministry of Christ’s priesthood, kingship, and mouth. We are Christ in the flesh for our contemporary world. Anyone who knows that we claim to be Christian gets either a good idea or a wrong idea about who Jesus is and what he is really like, based on what they hear from us.
Being a prophet is often a very sad ministry, because too many people fail to see Jesus in us. Sometimes it’s our fault, but sometimes, no matter how holy our words and no matter how purely we speak with love, the people who hear us have the same problem as the Israelites did in today’s first reading; they are “only too ready to disregard God’s voice.”
For many varied reasons, ranging from a faulty upbringing to freely made choices, they refuse to “heed the voice of the Lord in the words of the prophets he sends.” However, Jesus isn’t finished talking to them yet.
It’s been said that a person has to hear the truth from seven different people before it begins to change them. That number won’t always be literally accurate, but it is true that multiple prophets are needed. When it’s our turn, we don’t know if we’re the first, in the middle, or the last prophet whom God puts in their path.
When they refuse to listen to us, it’s important that we forgive them so that we convert our frustration into sadness instead of resentment. Then we can use our sorrow for prayer power. With yearning, ask God to soften their hearts through the circumstances and people who come their way. Remember, it is not you who’s being rejected; it’s Jesus, so don’t take it personally. Let the rejection go through you to him where it belongs. He’s the one who will figure out what to do next, not us.
We are not alone in this. God will indeed send other prophets. In him, there is always reason to hope. We are in partnership with Jesus and with the entire earthly Body of Christ.
Dear Lord Jesus: Your Word is like a fire that I must receive and spread. Give me the grace of humility, so that I may produce abundant fruit for the glory of God the Father. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica