Who are the prophets among us to whom we refuse to listen?
Who are the prophets in our lives? They’re out there, you know, but at times it is hard to recognize them, or we simply turn a blind eye. Why? Most often it is because we have our own self-serving agendas; we don’t really want to hear the message they proclaim. Such are the challenges prophets have faced throughout history.
In this weekend’s readings, we see the struggle, of not only Ezekiel (Ez 2:2-5), but also Jesus (Mk 6:-16) as they try to reach out to those who remain steadfastly unwilling to listen.
Ezekiel, a member of the priestly class and caught in the Babylonian exile, prophesized the fall of Jerusalem, which subsequently did happen around 586 B.C.E. Land was (and is) everything to the Jews. Ezekiel tried to warn them that, because of the captivity and the fall, any return to their land was not going to be imminent.
Instead, Ezekiel exhorts the people to live a life of obedience to the Lord and his laws. This is what is important.
God tells Ezekiel, “…I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day. Hard of face and obstinate of heart…”
Society continues to revolt. We remain hard and obstinate to God’s Word when it doesn’t suit our purposes; when his Word doesn’t appear to be relevant to our agendas. We demonstrate a decided lack of faith when considering that the way of God needs to be the way that we follow.
Then we have our Jesus. In the Gospel, we learn he has returned to his “native place.” As is his habit, he starts to teach in the synagogue. What’s this, those gathered start to grouse among themselves. Isn’t this that kid of Joseph and Mary’s? “Who is he to tell us what and how to believe,” they snort in disgust and disbelief.
Because of their unwillingness to believe in Jesus, one of their own, we are told, “(Jesus) was not able to perform any might deed there…” This inability resided, not in Jesus, but rather in the lack of faith in those gathered.
No one is a prophet in their own land, or so the saying goes.
What’s the point, you might ask?
Throughout history, we do have prophets among us. One that immediately comes to mind is Pope Francis. In his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” he writes: “This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen.”
What I find interesting is that some of those who loved the pope a month ago are now saying he should stick to religion and keep his nose out of things such as the environment. The pope is hitting too close to home.
Prophets speak and, if we don’t want to hear the message, we continue, as we have through the centuries, to stick our heads in the sand.
Being a prophet can be a thankless job!
To read the entire text of the pope’s encyclical, "Laudato Si', on Care for Our Common Home,” visit http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html