Adapted by David Woon
I was shocked, confused, bewildered
as I entered Heaven’s door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
nor the lights or its decor.
But it was the people in Heaven
who made me cannot tahan but complain -
the pirated CD vendors, the rude drivers, the illegal MP3 downloaders,
the shopaholics, the vain.
There stood the kid from primary school
who snatched my Gameboy twice.
Next to him was my old neighbour
who never said anything nice.
Mr I-got-5Cs-you-no-have, who I always thought
was rotting away in hell,
was sitting on an OSIM massage chair,
on cloud nine, looking incredibly well.
I asked Jesus, “How come ah?”
Faster explain and justify too.
How did all these sinners get up here?
God must have made a boo-boo.
“And why everyone so quiet,
so serious? Got any hints?”
“Shh… child,” said He, “they’re all in shock.
No one thought they’d be seeing you.”
- Memoirs of a Sojourner (http://sojournermemoirs.blogspot.com/)
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
In the days of Josiah, the word of the Lord was addressed to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
before you came to birth I consecrated you;
I have appointed you as prophet to the nations.
So now brace yourself for action.
Stand up and tell them
all I command you.
Do not be dismayed at their presence,
or in their presence I will make you dismayed.
I, for my part, today will make you
into a fortified city,
a pillar of iron,
and a wall of bronze
to confront all this land:
the kings of Judah, its princes,
its priests and the country people.
They will fight against you
but shall not overcome you,
for I am with you to deliver you -
it is the Lord who speaks.”
1 Corinthians 12:31 - 13:13
Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And I am going to show you a way that is better than any of them.
If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever.
Love is always patient and kind: it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence, and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.
Love does not come to an end. But if there are gifts of prophecy, the time will come when they must fail; or the gift of languages, it will not continue for ever; and knowledge - for this, too, the time will come when it must fail. For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect; but once perfection comes, all imperfect things will disappear. When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, and think like a child, and argue like a child, but now I am a man, all childish ways are put behind me. Now we are seeing a dim reflection in a mirror; but then we shall be seeing face to face. The knowledge that I have now is imperfect; but then I shall know as fully as I am known.
In short, there are three things that last: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.
Jesus began to speak in the synagogue, “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.
They said, “This is Joseph’s son, surely?” But he replied, “No doubt you will quote me the saying, ‘Physician, heal yourself’ and tell me, ‘We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.’” And he went on, “I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
“There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.”
When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
Many Catholics are apprehensive about speaking about their faith to non-Christians, but even more apprehensive are they about speaking about their faith to Christians and Catholics themselves… especially when we see or hear something that we know that is wrong.
Take for example when we know of a Catholic priest or nun or respected person in Catholic communities who is doing something that we know is wrong. We are more likely to ignore the situation, to not do anything about it and let it continue. Maybe we want to do something about it, but don’t know what to do about it. It is much easier to talk to non-Christians about the faith and the way it is supposed to be practised.
But when God is calling us to speak about our faith to these respected Catholics, we shy away. God is not asking us to change their hearts and ways. He is merely asking us to speak, to prophesy His Word to them. Whether they change their hearts and ways or not is simply beyond our power.
Often, however, we think that when we say something to them, it’s definitely going to make a difference, but we think too much of ourselves when we think like that. God is calling us merely to speak His Word to them and that’s about it. Whether that person listens or not is a matter between him and God, not ours.
In first reading, God is telling us to “stand up and tell them all I command you” and that he will “make you into a fortified city, a pillar of iron, and a wall of bronze to confront all this land”. We see that even Jeremiah was called to prophesy to his own people. He was not called to change their hearts, but merely to prophesy the Word of God. Of course we know that Jeremiah was reluctant to do it because he knew how the people were going to react when they heard something that they didn’t want to hear. Still, he trusted in God, and he prophesied.
In the gospel reading, we see Jesus too prophesying to his own people, knowing full well how his people would react to something that they didn’t like to or want to hear. Still he prophesied and God preserved him from harm at their hands.
But how do we prophesy? Do we just go there and tell people what they are doing wrong? St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells us how - we prophesy with love. Sure, what we are telling the people we are called to speak to might be the truth, but telling the truth is meaningless if it is not done with love, if it is not done with the good of the other person in mind. Telling the truth merely because you want to tell the truth is not good enough; it must be done with love. Even if you are a priest with the power and authority of the Church to forgive sins in the confessional, it is not good enough; it must be done with love.
How do you know whether you are doing it out of love or not? St. Paul gives us a list to check it against. Are we doing it patiently, kindly, and not out of envy or jealousy? Are we doing it in a way that is not boastful or conceited or holier-than-thou? Are we doing it rudely or selfishly? Are we offended by that person’s behaviour or words that is why we are speaking to him resentfully or out of “just vengeance”? Are we expecting the other person to be ashamed of his behaviour so that we can feel triumphant over him, or are we more interested in bringing the truth to light so long it is not at the expense of the other person? Are we concerned about the other person’s suffering? Do we try to cause him as little pain as possible? Are we ready to give him the benefit of the doubt, to give him another chance, to believe that God’s spirit is at work in him? Are we ready to endure his retorts, or whatever persecutions we may face as a result of our act of prophecy?
It is not easy to prophesy God’s word to others, especially to God’s own people. But so long as it is done out of love and for God’s sake, not ours, it will be worth it, because we will be carrying out Jesus’ will and command for us - to love one another as he loves us.
Dear Father, we ask you to send your Spirit to fill us with the courage needed to prophesy in your name, that is, to speak your Word to your own people. Help us to put our faith in you, so that we can hope for your Spirit to work in us and those we speak to, that we may speak with love and that your message may be heard with love. Amen.
Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who prophesy to us with love.
You Should Also Check Out This Post:
- Sunday, July 1 - Are you free to say ‘No’?
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- Friday, June 29 - Keeping the faith
- Wednesday, June 27 - The golden rule of truth
- Question: What’s the connection between pre-marital sex and adultery?