5 July 2015
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
Human history has shown case after case of good people being rejected by those who knew them best. This has especially been true regarding the prophets. They are to be understood not so much as people who predict the future, but as messengers inspired and sent by the Lord, who interpret the events of the present according to God’s eternal law, which can have consequences for the future.
The Old Testament presents the various great and small prophets, all of whom encountered difficulties, rejection and even martyrdom due to their mission. The prophet Ezekiel mentions in today’s first reading how he was sent by the Lord to a people hard of face and obstinate of heart, yet he was compelled to continue his vocation for they shall know that a prophet has been among them. Despite the rejection by society, God’s word must be spoken and his prophets and messengers are called to witness to its truthfulness.
Even beyond the religious sphere, there have always been instances where people have labelled others or unjustly limited their capacities, simply because they felt they knew everything about them. This is exactly what the Lord Jesus himself encountered when he paid a visit to Nazareth, where he spent his childhood and grew up. The residents were amazed by his teachings, but they took offense at him. The people felt that they knew everything about Jesus, because he was simply considered as one of them. They could only see Jesus the son of Mary and that of the carpenter Joseph in front of them, hence they couldn’t even imagine that there stood before their eyes not just a new prophet, but the very Son of God!
Jesus responds to their comments with the statement: A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house. These words have been proven so true throughout the history of mankind, from the times before and after Jesus, to this very day. The Lord has sent forth his prophets into the world out of love towards his people, yet repeatedly they have been rejected and considered outcasts. Despite this refusal, the message of the Lord does not lose any of its importance and it must be communicated to mankind, because the love and concern of the Lord for his people lasts forever.
While the people of Nazareth took offense at Jesus, the Lord on his part was amazed at their lack of faith and due to their disbelief he could not perform many miracles there. Through this episode we can see what results when there is a lack of faith in God: prophets are not welcomed, individuals believe that they know everything about everyone thereby they become self-sufficient, and society therefore has no further need of God. When the world loses its vertical gaze that searches for God above and only keeps to its own worldly or horizontal viewpoint, it has no further need for prophets and this can have dire consequences for humanity. This narrow-minded viewpoint of those who refuse to believe in Christ, those that lack true faith in him as the Son of God, has throughout history only produced dictators instead of doctors, tyrants instead of teachers, peddlers instead of prophets! May we never fall into the trap of thinking that we already know Jesus and that we have nothing further to learn from him. Let us not take offense at the Lord and never close our hearts to his grace. May we by no means discourage our prophets of today and tomorrow by our own short-sightedness.
Jesus remains forever the Prophet, Priest and King of Kings of all times, for he is the Son of God! And the Lord does send forth his prophets and messengers even today. We need to look no further than to the Holy Father the Pope, who is constantly teaching and preaching the Good news of salvation which the Church has received from Christ. He along with all the bishops and priests, has the duty of proclaiming it to all the world, in good times and in bad, whether it be accepted or rejected, for it remains God’s truth for the salvation and not the destruction of humankind.