Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
4th Sunday of Ordinary Time | January 31/February 1, 2015
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the readings here. This homily is based on the first reading.
A prophet I will raise up in your midst.
It seems that God has been remarkably faithful to this promise.
For when I scan over the last two thousand years, it seems that God has raised up prophets exactly when the Church and the world needed them . . .
When the Church was mired in corruption and stagnancy, Francis and Claire emerged. Bearing witness to the poor, chaste and obedient Christ who went about healing, reconciling, rebuilding.
When Church leadership had gone astray, consumed by its own politics and power, Catherine of Siena emerged. Chastising the ministers of the Church for failing to minister in the name of Christ.
When the Church was torn about by denominational differences, Francis and Jane emerged, preaching a path of reconciliation based on mutual understanding and respect.
When the world had gone astray in a never-ending quest for wealth, status and power, Dorothy Day shook the conscience of our nation in reminding us all of our responsibility to those who lacked all three.
When the world was consumed by violence and ideologies that preached supremacy and hate, Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminded the world that Christianity must always stand against oppression, even if it costs us everything we hold most dear.
When the world was torn apart by conflicts based on race and class and creed, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero and Cesar Chavez, Ghandi and Mandela offered another way. A future of true and lasting peace based on justice for all women and men.
Yes, God has never forsaken the promise to send us prophets.
And yet, the stories of these women and men are filled with hardship, rejection, persecution and often death.
It seems that being a prophet still comes with the same risks that it did 2,000 years ago. Preaching the word of God can still lead one to the cross.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never personally met one of these legendary prophets.
I admire them. I am inspired by them. I strive to emulate them in my own life.
But they have never directly spoken to me.
And yet, that does not mean that God has not raised up prophets in my own midst.
Many of the prophetic voices in my life would not even consider themselves prophets.
But the criterion remains the same. To preach the Word of God to those who are in need of it.
And truth be told my friends, it takes quite a prophetic voice to break through this hardened heart some days.
It takes the voice of Trystin to remind me that I am where I am supposed to be, especially when I am discouraged or frustrated or overwhelmed by the reality of my situation.
It takes the voice of my mother to remind me to care for myself. To find that balance, that perspective that I so easily lose.
It takes the voice of Paul to break through my stubbornness and ego, reminding me that I too am human. That I will be wrong. That I will mess up. That I will fail. And that I am still ok.
See my friends, God continues to raise up prophetic voices in each of our lives.
They could take the form of a friend who shares their worries about the decisions we are making.
Or a parent who tells us no, when a yes would ultimately hurt us in the end.
They could come from the pulpit, challenging our conclusions on an issue that we considered settled.
Or from our kids who ask why we are never home.
And we too are faced with the choice that each generation has been faced with.
Will we listen to the Word of God calling us to change? Or, will we close our hearts and condemn the prophets?
Ignoring their words.
Ridiculing their positions.
Lashing out with fear and anger against those who are simply trying to share God’s love with us.
The choice is ours my friends.
If today to hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.
May God be Praised