Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Jer 1:4-5, 17-19
1 Cor 12: 31-13:13
Lk 4:21-30

Be Prophets

Begin your reflection today by filling in your name in the opening words of the first reading from Jeremiah. “The word of the LORD came to me (your name), saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” 

You and I are called by God and appointed to be prophets in our own place and time. That is, we are to speak and live the Good News wherever we are. The Good News is that our loving God is with us at all times! Just as the mission of Jesus was to share love and healing to all the people he interacted with and to commission disciples to do the same, you and I are to continue that mission today.

The second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians is the famous chapter on love used at many weddings. It is also the description of how we are to speak and live the Good News. We know we are to love God and others. Love is not a sentimental word spoken to another person, but rather, it is an action. Paul tells us what love means and how it should be lived every day. This is the motivation for our prophetic mission.

In the gospel reading Jesus tells of a widow saved from starvation and a man healed of leprosy – both outsiders or non-Jews. His audience is incensed by the inclusion of outsiders and they try to destroy him. A prophet is not always appreciated by those who hear or see the message. We can expect no less when we live in such a way that is contrary to some of our society’s negative values and hurtful behaviors. It takes courage and a deep love to prophesy with our lives. Are we committed to the mission of love to stand up against violence, hurtful comments about others, not caring about the welfare of others, disparaging those of another race or different origin, denigrating the poor, aged or disabled? 

I urge all of us to take seriously our call to speak the truth of Jesus’ mission of love. Reflect on the message from 1 Corinthians and take the words to heart. 

Brothers and sisters: Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts. But I shall show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, It is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became an [adult], I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

We are called to love everyone. What part of love is difficult for you?

What part of Paul’s description of love challenges you?

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