HOMILY THEME: “I will raise up for them a prophet…” (Deut. 18:18)

BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya


HOMILY: Deuteronomy 18:15-20
Psalm. 95
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Mark. 1:21b-28

Beloved in Christ, on this 4th Sunday in ordinary time, God promises in the first reading of today to send a prophet. In the Gospel we see Jesus as a fulfilment of this prophecy, when he came into the synagogue and taught the people with authority uncharacteristic of their own scribes. So in this homily, I will like to explore a bit the concept ‘prophet’ as it applies to the person of Jesus and in extension, to us his followers – Christians.

Who is a prophet?
According to the Bible, a prophet is a person to whom God gives special message, to be passed on to others. This means a prophet is a person who serves as God’s spokesman to the people. It further means that a prophet speaks only that which he or she receives from God through the Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:21).

It is the major work of the prophet in the days of Moses to mediate between God and the people. He spoke to God on behalf of the people and to the people on behalf of God. Jesus is none other than the word of God made man. He called the world to turn from sin and return to the Father. He prophesied his own death and resurrection. By his life, death and resurrection, he reconciled the world to the Father. In this light, we see Jesus as prophet, mediator per excellence. 1 Tim. 2:5 puts it thus “There is one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus…” So Jesus was able to teach with authority and dispel evil spirit not just as a prophet like Moses, but as a divine person, God made man.

Today there are many so-called prophets. They promise financial blessings for anyone that sends in their “seeds of faith.” They even claim to know how many viewers or listeners there will be that will have their business prosper if they send in their offerings today. Truly God does not work this way. These false prophets claim to have a special revelation from God and can prophesy about things, people, and events that are to come. You see many on TV, on the Internet, on radio and even now on the social media that claim to be modern day prophets. As Christians, followers of Christ, prophets of God serving as bridges between God and men and women of our time, there is a warning for us in the first reading of today. “But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak – that prophet shall die.” (Deut. 18:20)

The work of a prophet is to prophesy about the future. And that is exactly what our life is meant to be – a prophecy of the future (eternal life). The eternal life after death is the surest prophecy any Christian could prophesy with his or her life, by living out daily the commandments of God and the teachings of the Church in view of our eternal destiny. “…and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” (Deut. 18:18). Our life is supposed to speak to others the commandments of God. Our life is supposed to speak to others the kingdom of God. Our life should speak a prophecy that that is sure to come to past- eternity.

So we should ask ourselves, are we living our life in accordance with the commandments of God which has come down to us and which the Church equally enjoins on us at all times? If our answer is NO! Then we should be weary of God’s wrath: “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.” (Deut. 18:20)

What are other gods?
Other gods are false gods. These gods could be just anything, from money to a living person. Anything other than God that we give our highest worship to is a false god. Let us not be mistaken, most of these false gods have nothing to do with organized religion (before we start pointing accusing fingers at other religions as serving false gods). Money, power, fame, sex, materialism, etc. these and numerous others are the false gods of our age and time. But the most popular false god of our time is not even money, power, fame, sex, or materialism. It is ‘SELF.’ Many of us are now familiar with the term “self-love” This idea has led to an undue projection of the self even to the point of objectifying the human body. This false god is found everywhere in the society. Even in the Christendom. Hence we see many false Christian Prophets who are motivated by money, trying to seduce people to follow them, projecting themselves instead of projecting God and His commandments. This projection of the ‘Self’ was what Jesus was avoiding when he rebuked the unclean spirit. (Cf. Mk. 1:25)

Beloved in Christ, our manner of living is supposed to be such that is lived in conviction of the word of God we hear from time to time. Living contrary to the word of God would make us false Christians (false prophets) and those around us would be unimpressed, since we would not be different from other so called Christians they encounter daily.

“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen…” (John 3:11) That Jesus preached with authority means for us that our witnessing to the Gospel among men and women of our time must be a personal testimony of our intimate relationship with Christ, just as Jesus’ teaching testifies to his intimate relationship with the Father.

Authority is conviction. As Christians, we are called to live our daily life with conviction that we know what we are doing. If we live our life in doubt of whether the promises of God holds true for us, then we cannot be said to be living with authority.

Finally as Christians sharing in the prophetic mission of Christ, we are called and sent to be the mouth piece of God, God’s messengers. We are to preach with divine authority about God not ourselves. We are to be the conscience of the people around us, showing sensitivity to evil, cherishing the highest good, God. We are to live the truth with conviction.

*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*

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