Home » Gospel Encouragement – 4th Sunday of the Year

Gospel Encouragement – 4th Sunday of the Year

Dear sisters and brothers,

The word that jumped out at me this weekend, unusually for me in the first reading, is the word prophet.  God, through Moses, promises Israel that they will have the prophet that they asked for, but they are beholden to listen to him, because he will be speaking on behalf of God.  Basically: you’ve asked for him so respond to what you’ve asked for, otherwise what’s the point.  In fact, throughout the Old Testament God continues to send prophets, right down to John the Baptist, and the one thing that Israel doesn’t do – on the whole – is listen to them.

For example, Isaiah and Jeremiah warned the authorities to trust God’s ways, not earthly politics, but they didn’t.  They entered into agreements with other countries, which eventually led to Israel’s overthrow.  The rulers didn’t trust in God, but in their own wisdom, and it led to abject failure.   And Elijah warned the Jewish rulers of his time to turn away from worshipping false gods – idols – rather than the one, true God, but those rulers sought to kill him for the truth that he proclaimed, rather than obey God.  And John the Baptist, the last of the prophets spoke of the need to repent, and was executed for proclaiming this message of God.

The word ‘prophet’ doesn’t mean, as is so often presumed, to tell the future.  It comes from the Greek words pro-femi meaning to tell forth, to speak out on behalf of God.  Sometimes that’s a word that they have sensed in prayer, and sometimes it’s reflecting on the signs of the times in light of a deeply committed faith.

Jesus is the ultimate prophet.  As God made man he speaks out on behalf of God with a clarity of understanding because he is God, and still – like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Elijah, John the Baptist and so many others – the authorities reject his message and condemn him.  In today’s Gospel we have the irony of the evil spirits recognising him, but as we know from elsewhere, the pharisees, the priests, the Sadducees condemning him.

At our Baptism, we were each Baptised as priest, prophet and king, and so we have the responsibility today to model our lives on Christ, on the apostles, and on those Old Testament prophets as Jesus inspires us – literally fills us with his Holy Spirit – to speak out on behalf of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  He calls us to give more time to prayer so that we might have an ever greater sense of his message for the world, reflecting on the signs of the times in which we live in light of an ever deepening, committed faith.  We pray that we as individuals, and as sisters and brothers united in faith, may be the voice of God in our times.

With every blessing,

Simon