THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for March 21st, 2014
Friday of the Second Week of Lent
THE Church needs to become prophetic again. By this, I do not mean “telling the future,” but by our lives becoming a “word” to others that points to something, or rather, Someone greater. This is the truest sense of prophecy:
…prophecy in the biblical sense does not mean to predict the future but to explain the will of God for the present, and therefore show the right path to take for the future. —Cardinal Ratzinger (POPE BENEDICT XVI), Message of Fatima, Theological Commentary, www.vatican.va
What better way to explain “the will of God for the present” than by incarnating His Word—becoming a living word, a living Gospel to others? In this way, we are truly sharing in Christ’s own mission.
The faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ. —Catechism of the Catholic Church, 897
We are so caught up in words today! But it is our witness that truly bears a prophetic word to others. And what is that word? That my life is more than just material; that I am living for more than a paycheck; that my goals are more than a retirement fund; that ultimately, my desire is not only Heaven, but to possess God himself.
But you see, we can all say this, but it’s another thing to live it! And how do we live it? When we carry our crosses with peaceful resignation; when we generously share from what we cannot afford to give; when we live in simplicity; when we forgive; when we are merciful; when we are pure in body and speech; when we are modest; when we refuse to partake in gossip; when we go to Mass while everyone else sleeps in; when we take time for others; when we do not compromise the truth; when we stand our ground in love; when we are humble; when we love the unlovable; when we bless our enemies and refuse to speak ill of their faults; when we pray publicly before meals; when we acknowledge the presence of another; when we silently bear unkindness…. These are all ways that we become a prophetic word to the world around us.
Witness to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Rev 19:10)
The word martyr means “witness.”  When we die to self in each of these little opportunities that come along each day, we are making room for Jesus in us. And Jesus is the “Word made flesh.”
I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me… (Gal 2:19-20)
In both the first reading and Gospel today, we see how the witness of both Joseph and Jesus, as symbolized in the parable of the vineyard, become a prophetic sign of God’s benevolence and presence to mankind. Through their suffering, they became a “word” of the Father’s love:
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes…
As air carries sounds waves to another’s ears, love is what carries the Word to another’s heart. And Jesus said that no greater love has any man than to lay down his life for another. The Cross is the supreme sign and essence of Christian prophecy.
But when we begin to live in this way, a prophetic life, we too will become, for some, a living stone that will be rejected. But remember the words of Christ: Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness…
…although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet. (Today’s Gospel)
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Pet 2:4-5)
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- from the Greek martur