14th August 2022
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“Do not kill the prophet”
It is a common occurrence in many societies across the world that people who stand up to unjust governments or companies or criminal organisations are murdered by way of silencing the truth they try to bring into the open.
We have witnessed it in relation to gangs involved in the drug trade. The cruel and heartless killing of so many is a tragedy and a reckless disregard for life. The effect over time is our morality is stifled in the name of expedient and short-term gain. There is no question that a growing number of a new generation have lost or never had a sense of morality. Too many equip themselves with guns and knives to ensure their sense of vengeance is satisfied.
More than that, much of the rest of society have lost our sense of shock and outrage at the growing number of murders taking place in domestic settings right across the country.
Silencing the prophet is not new. Jeremiah, as the 1st Reading relates, could easily have been a victim having been pitched into the well to die.
Jesus in Luke’s Gospel to-day asks the most blunt of questions.
Do you suppose I have come to bring peace on earth? No I tell you but rather division, I have come to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were blazing already!
This contrasts very sharply with the Jesus of mercy and compassion, of gentleness and kindness that we quote so often when someone takes a stand for a cause or person we feel is harsh and severe and do so on the basis of their faith in the Lord Jesus.
This brings us face to face with the paradox of the Gospel. By paradox I mean being able to hold side by side elements of Jesus teaching that seems to contradict each other.
Jesus is teacher and prophet, shepherd and healer of soul and body, it is Jesus who invites us to take up the cross every day not as punishment but as the way to salvation and life.
“Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies”
It is this consciousness of truth, of goodness, nobility and beauty that serves as the foundation of our morality for which we must pay a price to uphold.
When we do violence to the body and person of another, we do violence against our own dignity and theirs.
Regulations, rules and laws help to create order, they don’t guarantee goodness which comes from the heart.
The fire Jesus desires for the earth is not a wild fire of destruction of the landscape rather the purifying fire of sacrifice and generosity which can fuel our hearts for any task.