Prophets of God’s Grace or Prophets of Cheap Grace? | Word from the Shepherd No. 136 | 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time B

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B
Ezekiel.2:2-5; 2Cor.12:7-10; Mk.6:1-6

  1. Some say: Prophetism ended with John the Baptist, the last of the great prophets.
    The Church teaches that we are sent forth as God’s prophets, by virtue of our baptism, to proclaim and live the Word.
    Many do agree that God has been freely sending prophets in these modern times. We have had Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton, Mahatma Gandhi and even St Pope John XXIII, and many others. They did not live easy lives. They were persecuted, rejected, killed. Yet they witnessed to the Good News, the power of Christ crucified and continued to believe and inspire the hearers of the Father’s Dream.
  2. The scriptures reflect the life of the prophets and the ways of prophetism.
    1. They were sent and were moved by the Spirit to declare the Father’s Word to His people, whether they hear or refuse to hear. We see this in both Ezekiel and Jesus. Ezekiel went to the Israelites while Jesus returned to His own hometown.
    2. They were fully aware of their people’s disposition. God revealed their rebelliousness, their ancestors’ defiance and their descendent’s impudence and stubbornness. Jesus was confronted with reactions, resistance and unbelief.
    3. They encountered hostilities, rejections and persecutions. Often their own families, hometown, villages, religious leaders and state reacted to the prophets. The ‘where’, the ‘what’, the ‘how’ and the ‘who’ questions became their preoccupation. These thoughts were enough to shut out the word of God.
    4. They continued faithfully the prophetic task commissioned to them, whether they were heard or not. God desired that His people had to know that a prophet was among them, and that was Ezekiel’s driver. Nothing could also stop Jesus. He went on teaching to other villages when one rejected him.
  3. People react to genuine prophets. The questions and their comments reveal them. People cannot handle truth – about themselves, their family members, their communities, their race or their religious affiliations and their politics. They often ask:
    • “Where did He get such knowledge? Such wisdom? Such teachings?
    • “What are these new things that He is proclaiming? These new teachings?
    • “How is this possible? The miracles? The power that accompanies His preaching?
    • “Who is He to tell us? Who are His parents and relatives? Is He not one of us? We know Him.

Other reasons for refusing God’s prophets could be the following:

C.S.Lewis stated: “Today’s people have replaced ‘I believe’ with ‘I feel’. Personal values have replaced objective truths.”

Isaac Asimov: The fall of an Empire is a massive thing, however, and not easily fought. It is dictated by a rising bureaucracy, a receding initiative, a freezing of caste, a damming of curiosity—a hundred other factors. It has been going on, as I have said, for centuries, and it is too majestic and massive a movement to stop.”

Pope Benedict XVI: “In truth, peace”. Peace without truth is superficial and momentary. Within a pluralistic and relativistic society, anyone who would affirm the existence of absolute moral truth would be suppressed and would be considered a threat to this fickle peaceful situation. Intolerance would be the name of the game. Relativism becomes its rule. Those who would defend the absolute moral truth would face persecution from those who claim that “moral truth is relative”.

Simply, the rebellious and the resistant are saying: “Why change when things had never been so good.

  1. There is an urgent need for genuine prophets in these times. They have to contend with false prophets and the compromisers. But God expects His prophets to be moved by the Spirit, deliver the His message, disturb the comfortable, the complacent and the spirit of the world, and be courageous proclaimers of the truth. Be ready to stand alone.
    Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran Theologian, who died in the Nazi concentration camp during World War II said, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession… Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

We can be prophets of God’s grace. Teach without fear, favour or compromise.