STAND UP AND TELL THEM WHAT I COMMAND YOU
(Jer 1:4-5, 17-19; Ps 70:1-6, 15, 17; 1 Cor 12:31-13:13; Mk 4:21-30)
Last Sunday, we were looking at the prophetic role of each baptised Christian to go out and preach the Good News to the poor. This mission was drawn from Jesus' mission statement as expressed in Is 61:1-2. As prophets, the readings of today wants us to realize that we must go out and preach what God has commanded us to preach.
In the first reading of today, we get the call of the prophet Jeremiah. God assures him in the following words "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations. So now brace yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I command you" (Jer 1:1-2). These same words are being addressed to each and everyone of us personally and as a community today. Before God formed you in your mother's womb he knew you and has consecrated each one of us to stand up and tell the world what he commands us to say.
But how do we come to the knowledge of what God wants us to tell the people? Prayers, meditation and silence in our hearts are very important components to discern the voice of God in this our noisy world of today. When God appoints Jeremiah, he warns him not to be afraid in the presence of those he had to preach to because He has strengthened him and made him strong like a fortified city or a pillar of iron. He assured him that his preaching shall cause confusion among them and so they will reject him. That is why they shall fight against him but he should not bother because, He-God, will protect him. We see this happening everyday in the world. When someone stands for the truth and tell people the truth, people are never happy and see the person as an enemy. Most often, they hate, avoid, speak bad about the person and even look for ways to kill or destroy him or her.
Jesus in the gospel takes up the prophetic call to tell the people all God has commanded him to say. The reading is a continuation of last Sunday's gospel where Jesus had just announced his mission statement. He tells them today that all that he read from Isaiah last Sunday is being fulfilled. But because they knew his poor background, they rejected his message. This goes on everywhere that the truth is rejected or not taken seriously because it came from somebody with a low or poor background. Too bad! The Jews got offended when Jesus told them to the face that God helped a pagan widow and a pagan leper over and above other widows and lepers in Israel. This angered them and they hustled him out of the city to kill him but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
Dear friends in Christ, we too are called to tell the people what God has commanded us to say. The world is sinking in vice. Relativism and secularism is hitting hard on us. The media is making us to believe wrong agenda. Countries are suffering because of the greed of a select few. Wrong things are happening everyday. Unfortunately, many of us, God's prophets, are too silent to speak out. Many of us have gone mute. God warns one of the prophets in the Old Testament: if I command you to tell the people something and you do not tell them and they go astray and die in their sin, I shall hold you responsible for their sins. This warning still holds true in our days.
Many of us are afraid to speak the truth because we want to be polite. God will hold us accountable. As this goes on, people become relax and then leave in their sinfulness because they have forgotten about the essentials or because no one is there to remind them. We must all stand up and preach the truth everyday no matter how painful it might be. We don't need to be afraid to do this because God has empowered us for this and has made us into a fortified town and we are as strong as an iron pillar. Let not others suffer because we kept quiet.
As we go about this duty, we should do it out of love. Love conquers all. People need to be loved and to feel loved. Just go out and love people sincerely and we shall be living out the message of today. Remember, love is kind, it is patient, never jealous or boastful or conceited, never rude or selfish, never takes offence nor resentful. It takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth. Love is ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes. Love does not come to an end (1 Cor 13:4-8).
May our love for God and one another prompt us to go out and tell them what God has commanded us to tell them. It xan be through our encouragement, presence, care, words, smile, visits, etc. Let us do this without any fear of contradiction or rejection. God will always be there to protect us.
- Fr. Rinda