Fr. Ruben’s Homily for Sunday, July 15, 2018

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 104

Reading 1: Am. 7:12-15

Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14

Reading 2: Eph. 1:3-14 or 1:3-10

Alleluia: Cf. Eph. 1:17-18

Gospel: Mk. 6:7-13

 

How do we imagine that the prophets were? Were they very known before they were called by God or did they had a “Summa Cum Laude” education? In the first reading the prophet Amos mentions us that, “He was not prophet, nor have he belonged to a company of prophets” In other words, he never imagined that God would call him to take his word to his people Israel. Amos humbly describes his origins, his old work, “As a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.”[1] At the beginning of their mission the prophets were not known, they had no reputation of having any vision or personal encounter with God.

I find some important characteristics to be able to discern a true prophet from a false prophet.

First, the message of a true prophet creates inopportuneness.

It is obvious that Amaziah was bothered by the presence and preaching of the prophet. Amaziah tried to impose his will by dismissing the prophet, “get out of here”. We find in these words a deeper meaning. Get out of here because if you continue to prophesy I will not be able to carry out my malefic plan my own will that is in line with my needs and wants.

That is why the word of a true prophet creates difficulties. Because it makes us reflect on the things that we are doing wrong. Amos came into action when Israel had everything they wanted. The Northern Kingdom had reached the summit of its material power and prosperity.   But the hearts of the Israelites turn into pride, there was time for them to misbehave allowing themselves to all kinds of addictions, the poor where exploited and even sold in slavery, there was no true justice. Amos line of preaching was, “Seek the Lord and live.” God broke the silence because of the absence of loyalty and pity.  People broke the covenant, and people were waiting for the day of sanctity to come to an end so that cheating and exploitation can be resumed, therefore God spoke through Amos. Amaziah didn’t like that, “Go flee away to the land of Juda” he felt compelled by Amos words.

Second, the message of a true prophet speaks of good ethics. In other words, there is a living God who cares about the things we do, about the things we say. Therefore, justice is not just an idea but a norm, a norm that everyone must obey. We have rights and obligations as Catholics, what are our rights? To receive the sacraments of the Church when we need them, that the whole Church prays with and for us, that we belong to the body of Christ, that because of our baptism we receive the graces of God, of faith, love and charity, that positions our souls for salvation. What are our responsibilities? To obey the law of God, to give to God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s. What does this means? We have the Herodian followers and the Pharisees, the Herodian’s followers were not a religious people, they saw in Christ an antagonistic man with his spiritual teachings that were contrary to their interests. The Pharisees on the other hand were people who believe in the strict observance of the Law of Moses and did not believe that Christ was the Messiah despite all the miracles he did in their midst. Although Herodian’s and Pharisees were at opposite ends of the political spectrum, their common hatred of Christ was enough for them to join forces to try to destroy Him. Jesus made a distinction between two kingdoms earthly and heavenly; Christians are part of both kingdoms, at least temporarily. Under Caesar, we have certain obligations that involve material things. Under Christ, we have other obligations that involve things eternal. The message of a true prophet speaks of good ethics following Christ point of view, to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to god what is God. But there cannot be confusion; we ought to be the best for both kingdoms, living in virtue good morals and faith.

Third, a prophet is sent by God, he never acts in his own behalf. The Gospel today tells us that, “Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.” It is always God the one who takes the initiative; it is God the one who calls a particular person to do a particular ministry. Jesus called twelve and sends them two by two why? Because we need to hold our brothers accountable, there is less rick of making mistakes or fall into the snares of the devil. We need to be witnesses to God; God will call people to conversion through us. Is not that what Jesus said in the Gospel? “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them” (Mk. 6: 11). That is why Prophets often are killed for their message, just like Christ was killed. But we know that our salvation came through that sacrifice.

Then who is a false prophet? There is a simple maxim that we all need to know, we need to know what the truth is, and any believer who studies the bible can easily identify a false doctrine.  For example, a believer who has read the activities of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in Matthew 3:16-17 will immediately question any doctrine that denies the Trinity. Therefore, step one is to study the Bible and judge all teaching by what the Scripture says.

In other words, a false teacher can be known by his pride (Cain’s rejection of God’s plan), greed (Balaam’s prophesying for money), and rebellion “Korah’s promotion of himself over Moses”.[2] Jesus said to beware of such people and that we would know them by their fruits (Mt. 7:15-20). By their fruits you will know when someone is leading you to god or away from God.

 

[1] Zacchaeus the Tax Collector climbed a sycamore tree in order to get a good view of Jesus in Jericho (Luke 19:4).

[2] Numbers 16:1–50