Audio Available!

Audio Available!
Be sure to check out in each blog post the links to the audio recordings of my homilies. They are at the beginning of each post! Also, look to the right for links to Audio from other good resources!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Prophets of yesterday and today

Audio: I forgot to record it this week.  I apologize!  Audio recordings will return next week!

One of the best writers I read in seminary, particularly about the prophets, was the Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel.  He received a doctorate at the University of Berlin but in his 30s had to flee the Nazis and came to the United States, where he taught for the rest of his life. He wrote a two-volume work called "the prophets." In the first chapter, he talks about what a prophet really is, and here I read some of his inspiring words.

There is no proof for the existence of the God of Abraham.  There are only witnesses. (The prophets are those witnesses)
The prophet's word is a scream in the night. While the world is at ease and asleep, the prophet feels a blast from heaven. ...
... It is embarrassing to be a prophet. There are so many pretenders, predicting peace and prosperity, offering cheerful words, adding strength to self-reliance, while the prophet predicts disaster, pestilence, agony, and destruction. People need exhortations to courage, endurance, confidence, fighting spirit, but Jeremiah proclaims: you are about to die if you do not have a change of heart and cease being callous to the word of God. He sends shutters over the whole city, at a time when the will to fight is most important.  ...
... None of the prophets seem enamored with being a prophet nor proud of his attainment. To be a prophet is both a distinction and an affliction. The mission he performs is distasteful to him and repugnant to others: no reward is promised him and no reward could temper its bitterness. ... The prophet is a lonely man. The prophet's duty is (as we heard in the first reading from Ezekiel today) to speak to the people, whether they hear or refuse to hear.

Why does a prophet do all this? Because he cannot stand the injustice that he sees between God and man, between fellow human beings, and between man and the earth. The prophet cannot ignore the cries of God to go unheard among the rest of humanity. Heschel says: the prophet's eye is directed to the contemporary scene: the society and its conduct are the main theme of his speeches. Yet his ear is inclined to God. He is a person struck by the glory and presence of God, overpowered by the hand of God. Yet his true greatness is his ability to hold God and man in a single thought.

What made the prophets effective is the same thing that made to St. Paul effective: he lived in a radical way what he was talking about. He knew the love of Christ in his own life, in an intimate, unique, and personal way, and thus was able to share with others.

We have to do the same! The only way for the gospel to spread, the only way for the kingdom of God to grow, the only way for this parish to stay full of life is for us like St. Paul, like Jesus Christ, like all of the Old Testament prophets, is to live deeply our faith, both interiorly, and in the public sphere.

In this book, for signs of a dynamic Catholic, Matthew Kelly outlines from various studies that his institute performed, the most important ways that we have to live our faith if we want to be truly good witnesses.  They are simple, but powerful, like a river that runs deep.  The first is prayer: dynamic Catholics pray at a set time at a set place and then Isett way every single day. It is not left to chance, and it is not done whimsically.
Secondly, dynamic Catholic's study their faith. In order to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus, it means you have to be a student learning from him. Whether it is just reading a Catholic book, studying the Bible, watching Catholic television, or listening to Catholic radio (95.7 FM in South Bend), or a Catholic CD, or Catholic website, anything! All of this can be a way of studying the faith.

The third side of a dynamic Catholic is generosity.  The catholics studied said they didn't start with volunteering for religious education or working at the soup kitchen, but rather started small: giving of their treasure to people in need and programs they believed in, including of course the parish collection.  That is a small step that puts faith into action, and it slowly opens us up to being more like Christ who spent Himself entirely for us all.

The fourth sign of a dynamic Catholic is evangelization, which is being a witness, which is being a prophet in our world today!  Ultimately, it will come naturally.  When you know God intimately in prayer, when you are a student of our Lord Jesus instead of the

Incremental Change.  The most powerful things in the world are the things that are slow, steady, and relentless.  Think of the rains Texas had lately: if it rains long enough the impact is obvious.  I heard that even in Indiana the rain of June might mean millions of dollars in crop loss.  If we want to change our lives with the power of God's grace, then we have to make small, steady changes that will ultimately change the terrain of our hearts and souls.  But we can start small.

Set an alarm on your phone or write it in your daily calendar to pray every day at a fixed time.  Find a time in your day when you are usually available, and go to the same place to pray.
(6:11) One family in my parish, for example, would always pray together for my brother and I at 6:11 since we were being ordained on June 11th.
Read one page a day from a faith-based book.  I have hundreds and plan to eventually have a library for you to borrow from if you are interested.  I will also have CD's available from Lighthouse Media.  You always have the Catholic radio 95.7 with you as well as websites.
Let's just start with those two for now.

I have 3 copies of this book and if you want to take it home and get started reading, ask me.

There is no proof for the existence of the God of Abraham.  There are only witnesses. 
The prophets are those witnesses.  We are those witnesses.  Let us ask for God's strength in witnessing.

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