Many people nowadays want God, but on their own terms, not on his. They insist that their wishes shall determine the kind of religion that is true, rather than letting God reveal his truth to them. So their dissatisfaction continues and grows. But God finds us lovable, even in our rebellion against him.
Fulton J. Sheen Lift up your heart
Throughout the Scriptures we see that the calling, life and witness of the prophet is a difficult and a costly one. In this morning’s first reading we see Jeremiah being called to proclaim the word of the Lord. He is set apart for this task, he is made holy, and God says ‘I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations’ – in order to do what a prophet does, he has to be what a prophet is, function follows and flows from ontology, what he is, is prior, it is done to him, so that God may work through him.
It is a difficult and a costly task, and a prophet has to be prepared for rejection: ‘they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.’ It is far too easy especially in the current climate for the Church to be downhearted, when we are assailed by secular power, but we have to be like Jeremiah, and trust in God safe in the knowledge that that the one who called is faithful and will not disappoint us. We can trust in God, we can have faith and hope in him, so that we can speak the truth in love.
The People of Jesus’ home town cannot see what’s going on, they simply see what they want to see, they see a mouthy jumped-up carpenter’s son who has the temerity to challenge their preconceptions and their lack of faith, who tells is like it is, the uncomfortable truth, which they do not want to hear, but which they needto hear.
Currently we are being told that our understanding of Holy Order and Marriage need to be changed to conform to the ways of the world; it can only be a matter of time before legislation allowing assisted suicide to be made legal will be considered, so that we no longer have to value life either at its beginning, or its end, that the vulnerable and inconvenient can be disposed of by medical means, cast off, in private and away from prying eyes. Against the vision of a secular state which does not truly value life from its conception to a natural death, which does not value marriage as the lifelong and indivisible union of a man and a woman for their mutual benefit and that of society, and for the procreation and education of children, which seeks to tell the church what it should do and how and why it should do it, we have to offer an alternative.
It may not be popular to stand up and proclaim the ultimate and absolute Truth found in Scripture and the tradition of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, but that is what the Church is called to do. It may not be easy, people are not willing to listen, but prefer to mock and to jeer, to remain safe and secure in their liberal secular prejudices, looking down their noses at poor deluded fools who stand up for a truth which they see as only one out of a myriad possible options in this post-modern world. It is easier to persecute the church under the fig leaf of upholding equality and diversity, of protecting religion while undermining it, unless it conforms to the secular viewpoint.
We believe in saying that certain actions are right and others are wrong, they will harm your soul, and affect your relationship with God and each other, that life is precious and must be valued, and we do this because we are loved by a God who lived among us, who died for us, to heal our wounds, who rose again, to give us the hope of glory. He knew rejection, throughout his earthly life, but he was not afraid to speak the truth in love, regardless of the cost. It’s generous; it’s extravagant, in a way which people just cannot understand – entering into glory by being executed like a common criminal, for the love of us, of you and me – to give us new life in him. He is the Truth, the Way and the Life.
He knew that in the end the power of God’s love was greater than that of the world, the flesh and the devil – all these were beaten on a hill outside Jerusalem. So confident in his victory, in his strength and his truth, let us continue to proclaim it in word and deed so that the world may believe and give glory to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just, all might, majesty, glory dominion and power, now and forever