YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: IDENTITY OF PROPHETS
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE
FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
A prophet is a man or woman sent by God. The words he or she pronounces are not his or her words but words of God, words from on high, words of life! Hidden in their words are blessings and favours which come to those who take the words of the prophet to heart. To reject the prophet and the words he or she preaches is also a direct rejection of these blessings and God who sent him. May God grant us a kind disposition to the prophets He sends to us and make our hearts fertile grounds for the flourishing of His words; Amen.
The readings of today, in line with the theme of last Sunday, continue to throw more light on the identity of prophets and the message they carry and most particularly on the rejection of prophets by those to whom they were sent. The First Reading (Amos 7: 12-15) gives us an account of the prophetic ministry of Amos and his experience of rejection in his encounter with Amaziah the priest of Bethel. Amaziah, for various reasons, personal, religious and political, saw in the message of the prophet Amos a threat to the religious rites and worship in Bethel where he was ministering as priest and to the stability of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Unaware of the fact that the true content of the message of the prophet Amos was for the reconciliation and consolidation of the divided Kingdoms and for the strengthening of their relationship with Yahweh, Amaziah incited and by himself began a war against the prophet. In his very words, “go away, seer; get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel.” A prophet does not only come with a message. Folded and hidden in the message he or she proclaims are blessings and favours which have their origin from the One who sent the prophet. To reject a prophet is not just a rejection of his or her message, but also a rejection of the One who sent him and the blessings and favours hidden in the message he carries.
This was very clear in the sending out of the twelve in the Gospel of today (Mk 6:7-13). They were not carrying only a message from God! Hidden in their words and in their persons were the power and grace to make the presence of God felt by the people and His favours and blessing come down on them; “they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.” Every act of rejection of a prophet is a disconnection from the One who sent him and from the blessings and favours hidden in his person and message, for “if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.” The rejection of prophets for various and sometimes indeterminate reasons has been recurrent throughout of history and also thousands of people have lost many blessings and favours by this singular attitude. God speaking through Saint Paul in the Second Reading (Eph 1:3-14), made it clear that “before the world was made, God chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes.” These words summarize the whole message preached by the prophets. Their main purpose was to remind us always of the indispensability of living in holiness and spotlessness, for only a holy and spotless vessel is a fertile ground for the flourishing of God’s blessings and favours. This was the message of Amos! This was the message of the apostles sent by Christ! This remains the message of the present day prophets who share the mind of Christ!
May our reception of God’s messengers to us and the message they proclaim open upon us the doors and gates of heavenly blessings and favours; Amen. Happy Sunday;
Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE