Few of us welcome being challenged, criticized, or told that something about us needs to change. Instead of keeping an open mind, we usually react with defensiveness, anger, or fear. We might make excuses, stop our ears, or dismiss our critic as being off-kilter or a “goody two-shoes.” It’s easier to silence the challenging voice, than it is to listen. That’s why dictatorships squelch a free press! It’s also why Jesus was nailed to a cross.
Those who speak uncomfortable words to the world, or challenge it by their way of life, inspire some, but threaten many more. Prophets are typically unappreciated and misunderstood in their lifetimes. They’re often ridiculed, jailed, or even assassinated.
As God’s Son, Jesus is a prophet, because he revealed God’s sometimes uncomfortable truth to the world. As members of his body, the Church, we share in Jesus’ prophetic ministry. We shouldn’t be surprised then, that the harsh reception given to Jesus, is also given to us. “If the world hates you,” Jesus insisted, “realize that it hated me first.”
We don’t hate the world in return, we witness to it; we engage it, without embracing it; we challenge it, but are not conformed to it. Doing this will make us friends, but enemies too. It’s painful when that happens, but there’s also a silver lining: it means we’re doing our job, as Jesus did his.
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/nab/052811.shtml