Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On prophets

On the fourth anniversary of our invasion of Iraq
Scripture -- Jeremiah 38:4-6
The officials said to the king, "This man [Jeremiah] ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of the people, but their harm." King Zedekiah said, "Here he is; he is in your hands; for the king is powerless against you." So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah. Now there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.
Meditation -- from Archbishop Oscar Arnullo Romero (murdered just before consecrating the Eucharist, March 24 1980. His homily had called for soldiers to stop violating human rights of their own people and obey God's higher law )
You heard today in the first reading the accusations: "Death to that Jeremiah! He's demoralizing the soliders and all of the people with those speeches. That man doesn't promote the people's good, but their harm."
See how the accusation against the prophets of all times are the same. When the prophet bothers the consciences of the selfish, or of those who are not building with God's plans, the prophet is a nuisance and must be eliminated, murdered, thrown into a pit, persecued, not allowed to speak the word that annoys.
But the prophet could not tell them anything else. Read in the Bible how Jeremiah often prays to God, "Lord, take this cross away from me. I don't want to be a prophet. I feel my insides burning because I have to say things even I don't like."
It's always the same. The prophet has to speak of society's sin and call to conversion, as the church is doing today in San Salvador: pointing out whatever would enthrone sin in El Salvador's history and calling sinners to be converted, just as Jeremiah did.
Lord of justice and mercy, restrain my heart from its fear of others' anger, and retrain it to listen only to you.  If my tongue remains silent, pour your words out over it so that you may be heard in the city streets. If my hands grip my comfortable chair, propel me into the halls of power to speak your truth and to call your people to repentence. If my life remains quiet while the world is in anguish, take my life and do it over, for your vision for the world is more worthy than my wants.  Use me fully, so that at the end of my days I may stand before you, your faithful servant. In the name of Jesus my Christ, and in the names of those who heeded your call, I pray: Amen.


John Birdsall said...

Rulers often claim they're helpless before the will of the mob — or the voice of the people — don't they?

Anonymous said...

Only when they don't want to be The Decider.