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Two Prophets in Peril

Homily for Saturday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time

The story of Jeremiah continues today with an unexpected development. Yesterday we heard that the priests, the prophets, the members of the royal court and the people all took a position against Jeremiah. However, once Jeremiah states again that he was only speaking the words that God had put in his mouth, the princes of the court and the people stand against the judgment of the priests and prophets and declare that Jeremiah speaks in the name of the Lord. His life is ultimately spared.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist, the last of the prophets also finds himself in peril. John had defended the rights of the people and spoke in the name of common decency. He died in this cause in an elaborate setting of wealth, sensuality, jealousy, and drunkenness. His life was whisked away by a dancing girl, put on display by her drunken stepfather.

Two prophets, both speaking God’s word, come to two different ends.

Today we live in a world intoxicated by the pursuit of wealth, where sexual morality continues to erode, where jealousy, drunkenness, racial injustice, rioting, and treachery are splayed across the headlines of our media almost every day. A modern day prophet, Pope Francis, continues to defend the rights of the poor, continues to speak in the name of common decency. Unfortunately, we also witness so many people turning against him. Taking a stand against indecency and against those who get rich off the backs of the poor have never been popular positions to take. Pope Francis has always told us how much he has needed our prayers. Today’s Scriptures demonstrate just how unpopular a prophet can become.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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