January 28, 2022.

On this fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, the Church reminds us of the privilege we have in participating in God’s mission by virtue of our Baptism in Christ. So, in spite of all the difficulties associated with this call, love for God and humanity must sustain us in this mission.

The central theme of today’s Readings is that, when we face hatred and rejection because of our Christian Faith, we should have, and show, the courage of our Christian convictions in our day-to-day lives in our communities.
In both the first Reading and the Gospel, we see in Jeremiah and Jesus, prophets, chosen, consecrated and sent to their brothers and sisters as emissaries of the Word of God. The first Reading tells us how God called Jeremiah as his prophet and equipped him to face opposition and rejection. In his prophetic vocation, which he lived out while encountering rejection and persecution, Jeremiah anticipated Jesus, the greatest of all prophets.

Today’s Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 71), expresses the feelings of one who encounters opposition but trusts deeply in God’s protection, and determines to continue his proclamations of God’s justice and wondrous deeds in spite of the negative response. Never to give up!

In the second Reading, we hear Paul speaking with the courage of his Christian convictions in correcting the Corinthian Christian community where the exercise of God’s gifts has been causing competition, jealousy and divisiveness. Paul courageously presents to them a “way” which surpasses all others, namely, the way of love. He warns them that, if exercised without love, even the gifts of tongues, knowledge, Faith and generosity are useless. Then Paul spells out for them, and us, the true nature of love. So, he instructs them to recognize Christ in one another and to treat each other accordingly. The only way for them, and for us, to treat others is with love. Paul concludes the chapter by affirming that even the greatest of virtues, Faith and Hope, cannot exist without Love, the driving force of all life in time, and in eternity, “the greatest of these is love.”

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel, presenting his own people’s reaction to Jesus’ “Inaugural Address.” The reading shows us how Jesus faced skepticism and criticism with prophetic courage. Along with Jeremiah, Jesus and Paul believed that they were commissioned by God to proclaim a disturbing prophetic message, (Jer 1:4-5, 17-19). No matter how strong the opposition, the three had the conviction that God was with them.
Today’s Gospel also reminds us that life is not always easy for a true prophet, missionary or Christian in general. He faces oppositions, persecutions, rejections, and even threats to his life. In spite of all these, Christ did not relent. Instead, he continued to cherish God’s call.

The Church advises us that we need to face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. Perhaps we have experienced the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, violated trust, neglect, or abuse, even from friends and family members when we reached out to them as God’s agents of healing and saving grace. Perhaps we ourselves are guilty of showing such rejection. Perhaps we too, have been guilty of ignoring or humiliating people with our arrogance and prejudice. Let us learn to correct our mistakes and face rejection from others with courage.

Let us not, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, reject God in our lives for we reject God when we are unwilling to be helped by God, or by others. Such unwillingness prevents us from recognizing God’s directions, help, and support in our lives through his words in the Bible and through the advice and examples of others.

We need to follow Christ not political correctness, and to speak the truth of Christ with love without being hypocritical or disrespectful. We must never remain silent in the face of evil for fear of being thought “politically incorrect.” Jesus was not against conflict if it promoted truth. Jesus taught us to give freedom, to love and respect others without condoning or encouraging sinful behavior. We need to be kind, charitable, honest, – forgiving, but clear in speaking out our Christian convictions as Jesus was when he spoke in the synagogue at Nazareth.

Finally, we must have the prophetic courage of our convictions by our Baptism for God calls us to be prophets like Jesus, sharing his prophetic mission. The task of a prophet is to speak, and to live out God’s truth. We must never be afraid of this call, for it is Jesus who will supply us with the courage, the words, and the deeds we will need to oppose the many evils in our society.

Fr. Jude, CSSp

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