February 3, 2019

Imagine that today you hear the voice of God saying that He has chosen you to be a prophet. Your mission is to go to Washington D.C and tell the political leaders that they must repent and obey God’s Covenant. If they ignore God’s message, the whole country will be destroyed. How do you feel? Overjoyed that you were chosen??? You would probably fear that this is a suicide mission and that what you say will be entirely useless. You will be squashed like a fly!

This is the exact political landscape that Jeremiah finds himself in when he is chosen by God and sent forth. He must announce this prophetic “gloom and doom” message to the entire leadership structure in Israel. They certainly weren’t interested in his message condemning idolatry, the greed of priests, and false prophets, because their hearts were set on other gods. So then why did God choose Jeremiah for this suicidal mission? There is one simple reason: communication. God communicates to us through many different mediums but, nonetheless, God does communicate constantly. We need to open our ears and hearts to hear His message.

Throughout history, most prophets were consistently reluctant to accept God’s calling. Moses tried to convince God that he couldn’t speak; Jeremiah reasoned he was too young, and so on. Jeremiah was thrown into a cistern, imprisoned, dragged off to exile in Egypt, and forced to watch the destruction of Jerusalem because its inhabitants would not listen to his message.

Today’s Gospel is yet another example. Within five verses, we see the people of Nazareth turn from amazement to fury at Jesus’ words. They were so incensed that they seized him and dragged him off to the cliff to murder him.

We must be asking ourselves, if the prophets knew their mission was futile then why in the world would they do it? Because God’s call is irrevocable. This is both good and bad: good because you are forever chosen and bad because you cannot escape the hand of God! Yet, once a prophet accepts his mission, God sends the Holy Spirit to be the companion and advocate. The prophets consistently became discouraged in the face of opposition and persecution, but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit was like a burning fire that compelled them to courageously speak. It was irresistible. Ultimately, despite rejection and persecution, they were joyful.

Although we may not be a prophet, speaking the Word of God to a secular world is a dangerous endeavor. Persecution, both physical and verbal, continues to happen. Yet, as God’s chosen people, we must continue to speak. May the fire of the Holy Spirit inflame us with the wisdom and courage to speak like those prophets of old.

Kathryn Richards