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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Become a Prophetic Voice in the Heart of a Rebellious People

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 5, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

"And he said to me: Son of man: All these bones are the house of Israel: they say: Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost, and we are cut off. Therefore prophesy, and say to them: Thus saith the Lord God: Behold I will open your graves, and will bring you out of your sepulchers, O my people: and will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 37:11-13)

Ezekiel prophesizing over the dry bones
of Israel 
We are all called to be a prophet!

In today’s first reading, we hear from the Prophet Ezekiel 2:2-5. Ezekiel lived about 600 years before the birth of Jesus, and he was called by God to be a prophet… 

As we know, there were many prophets in the Old Testament such as the Prophet Jeremiah, the Prophet Samuel, the prophets Jonah or Elijah… The last prophet in the Bible was John the Baptist who proclaimed the coming of our Lord Jesus.

Most often, God called prophets in times of crisis to direct the people in the path of righteousness. This was the role of Ezekiel. 

Like most prophets, Ezekiel was called not simply to proclaim God’s message to the society he lived under at the time, but he was particularly called to proclaim God’s message to his own people, the Israelites, who had rebelled against God. 
“I am sending you to the Israelites who have rebelled against me."
Ezekiel incessantly prophesied the destruction of  Jerusalem and its temple. Like  the Prophet Jeremiah, who was living in Jerusalem at that time, Ezekiel would witness the fulfillment of the prophetic message of God when Jerusalem was finally sacked by the Babylonians in 587 BC.

My brothers and sisters, just as God called Ezekiel to proclaim His Word in the time of
Baptism of Jesus. Our Baptism imposes an
obligation on us to proclaim the Truth. 
the Israelites who had turned from God, He is calling each one of us to proclaim His truth today. We are each called to be a prophet for Our Lord by virtue of our Baptism.

Being a prophet doesn’t mean that we are called to go out into the desert and live on locusts and honey. Nor does it mean that we must walk around the streets yelling, “Repent!” No. To be a prophet simply means that we learn God's law and His word and proclaim it by the ways in which we live our lives.

Being a prophet for Our Lord is not easy. In fact, most of the Old Testament prophets did not want to speak God’s word because they knew it would bring enemies.

But, we are reminded that our faith is not about being liked. It is not about saying what others want to hear. Our faith is not about being popular. In fact, our Lord Jesus Himself,
Christ Beaten, Scourged &
Crowned with Thorns
who was the greatest prophet, says that we will be hated on account of His name. And, of course, we all know what happened to Jesus for proclaiming the truth.

Our call as a prophet for God demands that we recognize the times in which we live. We are called to understand current society in light of God’s Word. 

As the Prophet Ezekiel was sent to the Israelites by God to denounce their godless ways, we, too, by our Christian life are called to denounce the godlessness of the culture we live in today.

This weekend, our country celebrates Independence Day. The United States began only 239 years ago with the understanding that our nation is  a blessing from God! For most of our history, we lived under God’s law. But it is no longer so. We have now become a nation that has turned away from God and His Law!

Pope Francis just came out with an encyclical on the environment. He urges the nations of the world to “build a better future” by seeking common solutions to environmental problems. Yes, God wants us to take care of the environment, but that requires what is most important for our world today -- conversion of heart.

We can strive to cut down on carbon emissions and reduce pollution, but if this country and world does not strive to radically eliminate personal and social sin with its multitude of rotten addictions, then our society will not be able to avoid the impact of the impending train wrecks that are already upon us! 

Just the fact that more than one million babies are legally murdered in the womb in this country each year is enough to bring about chastisement upon our nation! And now the courts have made same sex "marriage" the law of the land. Legalization of same sex "marriage" will have a disastrous effect because it is a decision that rebels against God! This decision will also be a litmus test for every Catholic: do we follow God’s prophetic message to be a witness for holy matrimony, or do we go along to get along? 

Every time the Israelites rebelled against God they suffered defeat. Our country will suffer the same if we do not let God lead us. History repeats itself. 

Fr. John Paul Shea 
My brothers and sisters, our country, our people, our world needs to turn back to God! Today’s Psalm 123 says, “Our eyes are fixed on the Lord pleading for His mercy.”

Fix your eyes on the Lord. Plead for God’s mercy. We have become a rebellious nation!

But what is even worse is that rebellion has infiltrated the Church itself. As the Israelites turned form God to follow the false gods of their neighbors, many in our Church have abandoned the teachings handed down to us from the apostles to follow the false gods of our culture: materialism, sex, and pleasure. More than 80 percent of American Catholics use contraception even though our Church teaches that it is wrong, according to statistics.  And according to the same surveys, 54 percent of Catholics favor the legalization of same sex "marriage"!

Pope Saint John Paul II, who is one of the greatest prophets of our current era, warned us about the state of our Church today.

When he came to the United States in 1976, as then Cardinal Wojtyla, he said, “We are NOW standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are NOW facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla who
was later elected Pope John
Paul II
Gospel versus the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of Divine Providence.”

My brothers and sisters, God is looking for faithful Catholics today. He is looking for prophets to proclaim the truths of our faith to a godless society and generation. Let us recognize the seriousness of the times we live in today and turn to the Lord. Let us be His prophetic voice of truth in our homes, our families, our work places and wherever He may send us. May God bless us and help us!

The people are waiting for your words #Speak 

Did you enjoy this homily? Fr. John Paul Shea has published many more on this blog. Visit How Desperate Are We For God? to hear last Sunday's sermon. 

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