4th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Dt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28) “A Prophet of Humility and Divine Wisdom” PDF Version
Homily for the 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (2018): Dt 18:15-20; 1 Cor 7:32-35; Mk 1:21-28
Since the time of Moses, God had sent numerous prophets to His people. Prophets like Elijah and Elisha were prophets on account of their actions, while other Prophets like Isaiah, Amos and Zechariah, were prophets in both the words they spoke and ways in which they called God’s people to repentance and conversion. Each of the Old Testament prophets played a role in salvation history, but none of them was The Prophet that Moses said “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your kin; you shall heed such a Prophet.”
It was only in the coming of Jesus Christ into the world that The Prophet that Moses spoke of would be revealed. Thus, our Lord is the fulfillment of all the prophets who came before Him and is the source from which all future prophecy will flow whenever prophecy is to come from the Lord.
Often when we think of prophets, there is a tendency to think of them as being more akin to fortunetellers and predictors of future calamities. While a true prophet is certainly no fortuneteller, and occasionally may offer some revelation about things that are still to pass, the main vocation of a prophet is to be the mouth piece of God and to speak the word and message that God give them for others to hear. True prophecy is not one’s own innovation or opinion concerning the Word of the Lord, but the humble willingness to speak what God commands to be uttered, free of alteration or personal gain.
As The Prophet, Jesus Christ did not simply speak what His Father willed Him to speak, but also made the Word of the Lord alive and active in the world, for literally it had taken flesh in His Person. In addition, Our Lord willed that His role as prophet would be one that would not end with Him but would be given to His People. Hence, whenever someone is baptized into the Catholic Church, the priest anoints their head with the Sacred Chrism and announces that “just as Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life” and serving as his prophets in the world.
This gift of prophecy has then been entrusted to God’s Holy People and it is valuable for us to consider the example of holy men and women who have used this prophetic gift for God’s greater glory and the building up of the Church and the world.
On January 28th, the Church celebrates the feast day of one of her greatest prophets and theologians, St. Thomas Aquinas. St Thomas lived as a prophet through the ways in which he asked God for the gift of wisdom, knowledge and understanding, and then humbly allowed God to use his voice and person to proclaim these divine truths to others.
While many young children are inclined to ask question like “where does God live, how did God create himself or when did God begin to exist,” it is said that a young Thomas Aquinas asked one of his teachers “Quid Est Deus” or what is God? In doing so, St Thomas was asking a question and seeking an answer to a question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus before His crucifixion “Quid est Veritas” or what is truth?
As a young child, St. Thomas was beginning to understand that his vocation as a prophet of Divine Wisdom would be to seek to offer the best answer He could to his own question of what is God, and in doing so, also showed that to understand what is truth is to necessarily understand how the fulfillment of all that is true can only be found in God.
Like any prophet, St Thomas also discovered that to live a prophetic life is to also embrace the state of life and vocation that God has in store for you. Like St. Paul, St Thomas understood that wisdom of the Church in her call for some men and women to embrace a celibate life to make oneself more available for service of the Church; for as St. Paul observed “an unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord… and an unmarried woman and the virgin are concerned about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit.”
While married couples can most certainly be prophetic witnesses through living their vocations in holiness and mutual and lasting fidelity to one another, very often Our Heavenly Father asks those who have been called to the chaste celibate life to also function as His prophets, asking them embrace the same state of life of His own Divine Son and to more freely be about the prophetic work that is asked of them.
As a prophet of Divine Wisdom, one of the lasting gifts that St Thomas Aquinas left our Church was his eloquent yet humble way to speak of God that would assure the Church would not fall into theological error and begin to teach God’s People that which was against the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Very often, the work of demons will manifest itself not in outwardly displays of demonic activity like the man with an unclean spirit that Our Lord exorcised and caused the legions of Hell to tremble in fear that Christ had come to end their reign of influence over humanity. More often, demons will seek to sow confusion and draw souls away from Christ and the Church by causing confusion to be taught by members of the Church, often by those in positions of influence and popular prestige. In St Thomas Aquinas’ time, many renowned theologians had obtained fame and influence through teaching what appeared to be from the mouth of God, but was in fact filled with the lies of demons and caused many to drift away from the Church.
In response to the demonic errors of his day, St Thomas wrote extensively and used his prophetic gifts to explain the Catholic way in a manner that showed faith in God to be both reasonable and accessible for all of humanity to comprehend, while also humbly assuring that his writings did not contradict or go beyond what had been taught by Christ and His Church since her beginnings at Pentecost.
It is said that when St Thomas Aquinas sought divine instruction for his writing or required greater clarity and understanding from the Lord, that he would enter a church, go before the Tabernacle, and rest his head against the doors that kept safe the Sacred Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It was there He learned God’s wisdom; it was there that he gained the strength to be the Lord’s prophet.
May we too seek the Lord, present among us in the Holy Tabernacle, for the gifts of wisdom and understanding, for the humility to listen to the prophets who speak His word of in spirit and in truth, and that we too be open and available to the ways in which God maybe calling us to be prophets of the Lord.