My sisters and brothers, the life of a prophet is a tough life. Jeremiah was not scared in vain. Just as people wanted to kill Jesus in today’s reading, they always wanted to get rid of prophets because prophets spoke the truth. Today we see how Jesus confronts the people almost without words; he calmly walks among those who wanted to pull him and throw him down the hill, and goes on his way, fearlessly.
Perhaps the situation is unfamiliar for us. But we have heard of people in Central America, Africa, and Asia who have been killed because they spoke the truth and struggled for justice. We might also find it hard to believe that things like that could happen to us in this country. Today’s gospel, however, has something to say to our lives.
Have we never been afraid to say the truth or to defend justice because of fear of being rejected, laughed at, or retaliated against in our work, school, or in our neighborhoods? The scene of the gospel today has real people threatening Jesus.
We need to think a little bit further about who or what seems to be threatening us. What or whom do we have to confront? Because it might be that sometimes we don’t even see or realize the threats around us, and, without realizing, we are being led to behaviors that do not really agree with our Christian values. I am sure you have heard the expressions, “Everybody does it,” or “Everyone has one,” or “Why can’t we have all the things that our neighbors have”? TV programs and commercials might be pushing us into spending beyond our means or into thinking that faithfulness in our marriages and relationships is not really all that important. On the other hand, our desire to always have more and more could lead us to less than honest practices at work and even in our daily life. And why, because everyone else is doing it! Are we aware of those pressures on us? Do we confront them honestly? Are we, like Jeremiah, afraid that people might laugh at us, reject us, or persecute us because we are going against the grain?
How do we help our children to think critically about what is going on around them and to keep our values and traditions? As a family, how do we help one another to resist these pressures in our ordinary lives?
Friends, Jesus walked calmly among the people who threatened him. He knew that God’s power, as had been promised to Jeremiah, was with him. We can be sure that that same power will protect us. We are not likely to have to confront others violently: we need simply continue on our way firmly and with the certainty that God wants us free, free to do good each and every day. And why? Not because everyone else is doing it. But for the simple reason that through our own Baptism we too became prophets and we know that God is with us.