To love Him who has Loved us First

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time–Year B
5 July 2015

The first reading and our Gospel this Sunday point us to the painful experience of the prophets sent to communicate God’s message to his people. The prophets whom we have encountered in our readings today both experienced rejection.

The short passage of the first reading introduces us right away to the figure of the Prophet Ezekiel who would be sent to a people known for their obstinacy and hardheadedness. Towards the end of God’s call to him, we note of the word of caution God was quick to give him: It will do him well to know that they would not listen to him.

Our Gospel highlights Christ’s experience vis-à-vis his countrymen; these were people who were supposed to know Him better, and therefore, ought to have received Him and His message well.  But as we have seen, the opposite came about: Jesus himself was not spared from the bitter experience of being rejected.

We are told that the incredulity of the people left Jesus producing no miracle at all, except for a few cases of healings he performed in Nazareth.  His countrymen could not accept His words of wisdom because He was too ordinary for them. He was just a carpenter and His immediate family members they knew of.

Traditionally, prophets both in the Old Testament and even in the early Christian community suffered hostility. Not a few of them even had to offer their lives to carry out their ministry. Ezekiel and Jesus may be seen as prophets who lived quite far from our context; but prophets—those who represent God—continue to be rejected even to this date.

Prophets ought to take a stand against what they see; they oppose that which runs contradictory to the values which they embody in their words and especially in their deeds.

Their mere presence sends waves that rock the boat of those among us who have been accustomed to live in a world of distorted values. Their words leave unsettling and disturbing propositions which can only cause anxiety to the hearts of men and women immersed in sin. These prophets invite people to accept God’s word, and urge them to make the necessary life-transition towards God’s ways: protection of the dignity of life, adherence to truth, care for our neighbors in distress, promotion of people’s right and dignity.

However, I need to invite you to go beyond the figure of the prophets we met today who were rejected by the people. Let us focus on the One who sent them. Behind the rejection of these prophets is a figure of a loving God who has commissioned them to communicate His love for the people.

Yes, He is aware of the stubbornness of the people, and He knows very well that they will not listen. And yet, He sends a prophet just the same to proclaim His saving message to them; so that whether they hear or refuse to listen, they shall know that a prophet has been sent in their midst.

We see the realities of sin in our world; we just have to look back into the history of mankind which is filled with records of good people being rejected because of our attachment to sin.

Perhaps, we don’t have to look far. In our own community, we see some examples in our neighbors who are deemed prophets, not perhaps because they preach to us by their words, but by the lofty examples their lives manifest.

I know for a fact that many of us are tempted to earn instant cash by resorting to activities which our children will not be proud of. But many of us continue to choose the right path, however painfully more difficult it is.

We don’t have much. And yet, I know of stories of generous individuals who continue to give despite having nothing at all. We see them serving our community by sweeping our streets or making our dark nights secured from bad elements.

These individuals are prophets, too, in their own right; and they, too, experience rejection. We see and experience concretely how it is to have a faithful Father who continues to call us for conversion and towards His love.

Indeed, God’s faithfulness is manifested concretely in the lives of these people whose quality of lives they lead qualify them to be called prophets. We, too, are likewise challenged to become one, through our perseverance to be faithful and to love Him who has loved us first.

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