Are We Being Duped By God?

2023년 9월 3일

Are We Being Duped By God?

<  Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time >

 When I was pastor of Hwoi Weon Dong parish in Masan, I learned so much about community planning. One area I found fascinating is when the parish went on a trip. Before we went, we’d send some young people ahead of us to scout out the way: which bus to take, how much it cost, how long the trip was, what stop to get off, which yeogwan to stay at and where to eat. The young people were happy to explore for us and we were grateful for their knowledge that made our trip enjoyable. In many ways, these people were like the prophets of old, like Jeremiah in the first reading. God sends them on ahead to scout out the right way to go. However, unlike our community, the people of Israel didn’t like to be told what to do or which roads to avoid. They persecuted and sometimes killed the prophets. That’s the main difference. Our young people were happy to be scouts; the prophets dreaded being called by God, because they knew it was a thankless and dangerous calling.

Thus in the first reading we hear the complaint of the Prophet Jeremiah: “You duped me Lord, and I let myself be duped!” Jeremiah decides he will no longer tell the people what God revealed to him, but admits “I could not hold the word of God inside me. It became like a burning fire within me.” In our time there have been modern prophets, people who had a vision of what we can become and where we should be going. In some cases, like in days of old, modern prophets also paid with their lives, like Martin Luther King, Oscar Romero and Mahatma Gandhi. Lesser known, Sister Dorothy Stang was a prophet to the people of the Amazon rain forest, who were losing their lands to the logging industry. She paid for her witness with her life. While walking through the forest, her way was blocked by three gunmen who told her to go back. She turned around and took out a Bible from her pocket and read out loud, “Blessed are the poor, they shall inherit…” Gun shots silenced her, but her spirit lives. We who follow Jesus, who make the sign of the cross all the time, should not be surprised when our witness to the gospel faces opposition.