Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Homily 20 – Memorial of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist

The Uncomfortable Call of the Prophet

We often think of a prophet as someone who foretells the future. Yet, the primary job of a prophet is to speak not about the future, but about what is going on right now. The prophet stands in the midst of the present situation and is able to see things with God’s eyes and boldly speak out, “Thus says the Lord!”

The truth is that we really don’t like prophets very much. We tend to want to settle into a pattern of life that is comfortable and little by little we compromise with the societal forces around us. It’s easy to just keep on going this way, like the proverbial frog in the pot as the water keeps getting hotter and hotter. The prophet is the one who breaks in and disrupts this status quo.

John the Baptist was called “The greatest of all prophets” by Our Lord. It was finally his preaching against divorce and remarriage that led to his execution which we commemorate today. As the temperature in the pot continues to rise all around us today, we could use a few good prophets like St. John the Baptist. We are kind of in comfort mode right now, compromising our prophetic role for the sake of “political correctness” or mistaken ideas of being “pastoral.” Are there some prophets out there who are willing to stand up and call us to jump out of the pot?

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