January 28 – True Prophets

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January 28 – True Prophets

In Deuteronomy today we hear that God’s very words will fill the mouth of a true prophet, but a false prophet will, in a manner of speaking, put mere mortal words into God’s mouth. In Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus teaching and healing as a true prophet, one filled with the authority of God’s own voice. The whole history of our church is filled with both true and false prophets. Some false prophets were extremely popular and quite well-versed in scripture, and even held positions of authority. But in today’s Gospel we learn that Jesus’ fame spread because he taught with authority; he wasn’t an authority because he was popular or famous. Elsewhere, we also learn from him, in his desert temptation confrontations with Satan, that anyone can quote scripture, even against God’s purposes. Today we hear that his authority was not like that of the scribes, who held the official positions of religious authority in his day. Our work is to do our best to discern the true prophets in our midst, and to be true prophets as well. The psalmist tells us how to do this: by not hardening our hearts when God speaks. If we truly listen to God, it will be God’s very words filling our mouths.

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Today we encounter readings that already have a Lenten feel about them. Nineveh undergoes a forty-day fast, the psalmist reminds us that God alone can show sinners the way, Paul shows us how fleeting the things and events of this world are, and Jesus cries out “Repent!” before he calls his new followers. “Come after me,” Jesus says, but if we are to truly live out the commands and demands of our discipleship through baptism, we must first know our need for conversion, our repentance, our need to believe in the gospel fully. Today’s Gospel opens with the stark reminder of what befell John the Baptist for completely living out his vocation as the herald of Christ and the gospel: he was arrested, imprisoned, and martyred. Though few of us will experience consequences that extreme, we must all be ready to risk some sort of rejection as, heeding the call of Jesus, we live out the kingdom of God at hand, repent of our sins, and believe in the good news of salvation.

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January 14 – The Lamb of God

“Behold the Lamb of God!” We hear this phrase every Sunday at Mass, but there’s a good chance that many Roman Catholics do not know who in the Bible originally spoke it. The phrase appears only in the Gospel of John, on the lips of John the Baptist, who utters it twice. In today’s Gospel reading, John proclaims Jesus as the Lamb of God, and two of John’s own disciples then follow Christ. A little bit later Andrew, who heard John and then followed Jesus, brings his brother Simon to be re-named Cephas, or Peter. A careful look at these Bible verses shows us the mission of everyone baptized into the Body of Christ: we must always proclaim our faith in Christ, so that others will follow him. We may not know how the will of God might work through those we bring to Christ; that is not the point. The point is that our ongoing mission as a church is to bring others to Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

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Today Isaiah reminds the people of God that the land shall be restored to their possession, they shall rejoice to see their people return from the bondage of exile, and that they shall be a light to the nations. In other words, through the people of Israel, the Savior shall come to all people who seek God with a sincere heart. This brings joy and the radiance of God’s glory to all the world and to all people everywhere. Through the fidelity of the people of God, and through God’s fidelity to them, all people shall become God’s children and rejoice in the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel.

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