A Prophet Without Honor is Still a Prophet

Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cathedral of St. Raymond and Sacred Heart Parish
Joliet, IL

As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me
and set me on my feet,
and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:
Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites,
rebels who have rebelled against me;
they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.
Hard of face and obstinate of heart
are they to whom I am sending you.
But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD!
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

1st entered seminary:

  1. Rigidity with my own family
  2. Surprise/misunderstanding from friends
    1. “You’re not cool anymore.”
    2. “You’re a different person”
    3. “You don’t swear any more”

A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.

  1. This is just something seminarians and priests have to learn.
  2. None of you care that I know there are 2865 paragraphs in the Catechism unless you first know that I love you.
  3. People in Oswego would say, “isn’t he the jerk who beat out my son for the lead in the show?
    1. Isn’t he the one who yelled at me when he was the drum major of marching band?
    2. Didn’t he do that crazy skit to win Mr. Oswego?

The people closest to us, our own friends and families, know us better than anyone and they know, and very often have been the target of, our less than holy behavior; our anger, our selfishness, our pride, our sloth, etc.

And now he’s trying to be holy?

And the honest answer to that question is: Yeah. I’m trying to be holy.

When those we love react negatively to our faith, to our pursuit of virtue, of truth and goodness and beauty, it can be a very discouraging thing. There is the temptation to hide our faith, to not go to Mass when we visit our children, to stop talking about the power of Jesus, to hide.

There is nothing worse than having someone very close to us live a life totally contrary to our own; to have the most special people in our lives hate what we have come to love.

It is situations like these that give life to another thing Jesus says, when he calls his disciples to give up “mothers and fathers and sisters and lands for my sake.” It will mother against daughter and father against son; we can’t force those we love to believe and see what we see in a life with Christ, but that doesn’t mean we have to feel guilty about living our own lives; we should never be ashamed of moving forward in our relationship with Christ even if it means we are leaving other areas or people behind.

“At a certain point, you have to start saying who you are and who you belong to.” (Alberto Portolani)

The things that Jesus is coming into our lives to do are incredible, beyond anything we could have imagined. Not just in heaven, but here in Joliet. His resurrection, his conquering of death and sin, means that everything can change; nothing is static. But it can be overwhelming. The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone, and if you’re not finding that companionship from the people in your own family and daily life, then perhaps it is time look elsewhere for that the spiritual friendship you are craving and requiring.

We see so many beautiful things, we sense so many beautiful things happening to us, and we need someone to be there walking with us to whom we can turn and say, “Can you remind me of what I saw?” (CL News, “Christianity as an Event in Ten Witnesses)

I would like to offer you something helpful that I received this week in an email newsletter from a Movement in the Church I belong to. I didn’t come with these, but find them very helpful as guideposts on my own journey through life and ministry with Christ. My hope is that they will serve as reinforcements for those already on the way, or may provide a starting place for those looking to make a deeper plunge into being a true, living witness of the event of Christ, the fact of Jesus Christ happening to you at every moment. (Fr. Jose Medina, CL)

  1. Take a risk – follow a proposal, whether from prayer or for some ministry offer in the bulletin. Move forward on something that you feel the Spirit asking you to do.
  2. Work – “doing with others, not to others.” Christian work takes many forms besides organizing committees and serving the poor. Christian work also looks like doing what needs to be done, adding or subtracting the things in life that will pave the way through the narrow gate for you.
  3. Dialogue – Christian friendship, spiritual companionship. Look around this place and see the faces of your brothers and sisters, like-minded individuals, a community which the Lord has provided for each one of us. None of us is on this journey alone. “A companion allows you to face what you don’t want to face.”
  4. Friendship – “the desire for a continuation” – I love being with you, I want to love YOU and I want to be known by you. I want to walk on this way with you. “Being with others [who love and understand us] generates a friendship, a desire for more, the continuation of more.”

We have to avoid the rigidity that divides, and kind of formalism that says, “Christ doesn’t live unless I, and those around me, do this and this perfectly and consistently.”

We must embrace the fact that Jesus lives and that it will take a lot of splendid effort to remain in relationship with him, even if that means you will not be accepted in your native place.

Jesus didn’t say, “my friends and family ridicule me, so I should stop my mission.” Even though he perceived their lack of faith he continued on his mission because he was convinced of its import, and of the Father’s will.

Let’s pray that the Eucharist we receive today from this altar might be the strength we need persevere in our faith despite the challenges from those closest to us. May we be convinced of the sweetness of God’s plan for us.

Listen again to the words from the First reading:

As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me
and set me on my feet,
and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:
Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites,
rebels who have rebelled against me;
they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.
Hard of face and obstinate of heart
are they to whom I am sending you.
But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD!
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
they shall know that a prophet has been among them.