A Prophet Without HonorHome > Fr_Thomas > A Prophet Without Honor
“Americans need to save more of their income!” “Americans should lose weight!” “Americans should stop playing the policemen of the world!” Each of these statements can be seen as true or false, depending upon one’s view. They are all challenges. Do we ignore the challenge? Do we respond with anger and defensiveness? Do we consider the truths of each statement, despite how it may make us feel?
Prophets utter the truths we so often would prefer to ignore. Like Ezekiel, Isaiah, Amos and Jeremiah, Jesus followed a long tradition within Judaism of prophets who challenged the people, always to make them stronger in their own commitment to the God of Israel. Prophets point out the unpopular truth that claiming a relationship with God means rejecting other things. If I claim to be a Christian, I cannot steal. If I claim to follow Jesus, I cannot commit adultery. If I claim that God is first in my life, I cannot take someone else’s life. Believing in God has its consequences. Prophets remind us of them!
The consequences of faith are more than observance of the commandments of not killing or stealing. Claiming to be a follower of Jesus means paying workers a fair and living wage…just ask the prophet Amos. Claiming to follow Jesus means providing affordable education to the poor…just ask Isaiah. Claiming to follow Jesus means thinking globally and considering the needs of others…just ask Ezekiel. Many people liked Jesus’ words until they reflected on their consequences. Like the message of John the Baptist before Jesus, baptism and repentance are the easy parts, what comes next, living a life of repentance is the hard part!
Jesus faced the rejection of the people, typical of those who speak truths we so often prefer not to hear or accept. Studies show that Americans do save less than most in European or developed countries. Saving requires discipline and putting long-term gratification over the short-term. More and more Americans are obese. Yes, we need to lose weight. Americans need to become more active, turn off the TV and take a walk. Since World War I, America has fallen into the trap of playing “policeman” for the world. “Avoid foreign entanglements!” This statement came from no less a radical, liberal, Commie pinko than President George Washington. The statements and words of prophets are often hard and difficult to hear. And yet, it is part of our tradition to be challenged. Rejecting the prophetic voice is part and parcel to rejecting Jesus. Perhaps, we need to give it a second hearing!