Jump to content

Pastor's Letter 20220130 - 30 January 2022 - Fulfilling the Role of the Prophet

Recommended Posts


January 30th, 2022

Fourth Sunday-Ordinary Time

A Message from Father Michael


Today’s Theme:  "Fulfilling the Role of the Prophet” 

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

Our First Reading (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19,) has particular relevance to our day.  Like his predecessors who accepted their mission with submission (Isaiah, with “eagerness,”) we also are called, but respond “reluctantly,” to our mission to speak the word of God’s truth and justice in our world.  Jeremiah had to question God, in order to understand, and was not uncritically accepting of prevailing religious traditions.  His calling led him to a feeling of abandonment.  Nonetheless, he became the supreme example of the triumph of failure—until surpassed by Jesus Christ. 

(Note: Jeremiah is better known to us as an individual than any of the other prophets, for his book contains many passages of personal confession and autobiography, as well as length sections of biography.  He is a lonely, tragic figure, yet his “failure” in the eyes of his people was a triumph as later ages were to recognize.)  


The Corinthian’s question to Paul had been, “Which is the highest gift—particularly, between prophecy or speaking in tongues?”  His response was that there exists a “still more excellent way of love,” in light of which all other gifts may be evaluated.  Our Second Reading contains perhaps the most articulate treatment of “love,” ever composed (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13.)  It is vital to Paul’s argument and is meant to help us see all the charismatic gifts in proper perspective.  He personifies “love,” thus separating it from one’s personality.  He challenges Christians to make it real by embodying that supreme virtue in their hearts, minds and wills.  This chapter falls into three parts:

Charity is the Christian way par excellence.  “Tongues,” righteous declarations and personal sacrifices have little meaning, without love.

Love is opposed to all childish rivalries.  Here he expounds on the qualities of love: having all patience, rejoicing in right, bearing, believing, hoping and enduring all things.

Charisms are transient: prophecy and tongues will cease and knowledge will pass away, because they are “imperfect.”

Love, then, is the “yardstick” against which all charisms are measured.


Continuing last Sunday’s reading, we are told Jesus’ audience were in wonder and awe at His understanding of Scripture—in spite of their knowing Him as the Son of a humble carpenter, Joseph (Luke 4:21-30.)  Such an image led them to question His authority, and eventually to rage at His seeming audacity.  Not accepted by His own people, Jesus, like His prophetic predecessors, turned to the Gentiles, who, by implication, received Him.

His ultimate fate, at the hands of His own people, is foreshadowed, in this selection, but His “hour had not yet come,” and He vanished from their midst. Today’s mission of the Church to the world should be understood and exercised in the same light and with the same fearless determination.   

Bringing Out the Best and the Worst

Regrettably, religion sometimes brings out the worst in people, making their views narrower; their opinions and actions more bigoted; and occasionally, possessed of a tendency to hate and kill.  We see an ugly example of this in our reading of today’s Gospel, from the citizens of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth.  But we are all too aware this kind of thing still happens in our supposedly “enlightened” society.  Religion can be distorted and turned into something repulsive, such as fanaticism and bigotry.  When this happens, religion becomes synonymous with narrow-mindedness, small-heartedness and intolerance.

 But religion can also bring out the best in people, making them more tolerant and most importantly, more loving.  True religion liberates the heart and the mind, fostering harmonious relationships with others.  Religion is beautiful when it is like this….  Each of us must ask ourselves, “What does my religion bring out in me?”   

Rejected by His Own

Years after leaving his native village in the Transkei, Nelson Mandela returned home for a visit.  By that time, he was a lawyer and lived in Johannesburg.  Of that visit, he later wrote: “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you, yourself, have changed.  The old place went on as before, no different from when I had grown up there.  But I realized that my own outlook and world views had evolved.”  In effect, he was saying that, while it was nice to go back home, he could no longer “live” there—it had become “too small” for him.

 It’s an experience many of us have had.  Like Jesus in Nazareth, we want to share our “gifts,” acquired from a lifetime of learning and experience, with people who know us best.  But often we are not appreciated.  Their memories of us are colored by how they remember “who we were” when we left, and they have no faith in us.

The example of the view one gets from the top of a great building can be illustrative:  it is often quite different from that we gain when we are close to it.  From a distance it stands resplendent in its setting—we can see its outline, its form and its beauty.  But close in, all we may see are the grime and the cracks.  

Something similar happens with people.  A genius is not likely to be discovered by his friends.  The person near at hand suffers because his faults and limitations are clearly visible. The person far away, on the other hand, is held in esteem because only his virtues are visible.  That is why, many of us, in our modern, mobile society, have found our fortunes and acceptance far from our native “haunts.”  We tend to offer our best “gifts” to people who have no familial ties to us, at all, even if we have never been overtly “rejected back home.”  

When we genuinely provide service to others with a sense of love, not concerned with how we may be perceived, we maximize the value of that service.  It may not be pleasant to be unappreciated, or unrecognized for what we can “bring to the table,” among our familiars, but we must persevere in doing so, with love.  By seeking others’ well-being as our primary focus, we will be best able to affect sought-after results, that will be appreciated most, by those who are most willing to receive them.  

That is what Jesus did.  Having offered His gifts of knowledge, truth and love to his native people, some of whom accepted Him, He went off and found others in need—outside that circle.  In so doing, He embodied the “primacy of love,” that Paul preached.  Paul said our essential qualities are love, kindness and charity—doing things for others.  Other things fade and pass away, but love endures.  When we truly love, we possess all other virtues as well.  If we keep in mind our true goal in life is to “minister” to those with whom we come into contact, nothing can succeed more than a showing of love.  

  May God Richly Bless You!

"Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome.  Love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy!"  We are willing to give in proportion as we love.  And where love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete."

~~Rite of Christian Marriage--1962-Rituale Romanum~~

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here: 

Be Present, Spirit of the Lord.docx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...