A few years ago, my eyes were opened to the fact that a prophet is someone who disturbs. In my research for today’s reflection I came across a saying “every prophet disturbs, but not everyone who disturbs is a prophet.”1 This I believe to be true, we can be disturbed by all sorts of people by what they do, what they say, how they treat others or how they treat themselves. Just because they can disturb us does not make them a prophet.

In the Catholic Dictionary the word prophet is explained as follows

The biblical term ‘nabi’ means ‘one who spoke, acted or wrote under the extraordinary influence of God to make known the divine counsels will.’ Yet commonly associated with this primary function to proclaim the word of God, a prophet also prophesied by foretelling future events. His role, then was to both proclaim and to make the proclamation credible.2

Based on this purpose, is it any wonder that they disturb?

In today’s readings we have Jeremiah, complaining to God about the burden of being a prophet and yet despite the derision [‘daily laughing stock, everybody’s butt.’] he suffers he continues to obey God and share the message with the people God wanted to hear it. Jeremiah tried to block God, he tried to not even think about God or mention his name, but he had this ‘ fire burning’ in his heart, compelling him to continue to deliver very difficult messages.

In our Gospel today Jesus foretells for the first time of His Passion. Peter, takes Jesus aside and protests, “this cannot happen to you Lord.” Peter is disturbed by the message, and I would guess he would have been even more disturbed by Jesus’ reaction to his protest, “Get behind me, Satan!” and is told that he is an obstacle to Jesus. What are we to make of this? Only last week, in the verses preceding this week’s versus, we hear Jesus tell Peter that he is the rock upon which the Church will be built and now Peter is being called Satan. The answer was immediate. Peter was thinking as men think and not as God thinks. As I mentioned last week God does things His way, and every day we say to God that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Within our Gospel there is further disturbing news for the disciples and for us; if we want to be followers of Christ then we are to take up our cross and follow Jesus. We are to follow Jesus unto the point of death and if we lose our life for the sake of Jesus we will be rewarded with eternal life. That is the promise made by Jesus. At the end of time, when Jesus comes to judge, each of us will be rewarded according to our behaviour. On that day there will be much rejoicing, but there will also be much weeping and grinding of teeth. St Katherine Drexel sums it up very well –

The question alone important, the solution of which depends upon how I have spent my life, is the state of my soul at the moment of death. Infinite misery or infinite happiness! There is no half and half, either one or the other. And this question for me is to be decided at most in seventy years, seventy short years compared with Eternity.3

This judgement is why St Paul is urging the Romans in our excerpt from his letter to them in today’s second reading to change their behaviours, model their behaviour on their new mind. St Paul tells them that this is the “only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.”

To change our current behaviours may not be easy; living the life of an intentional disciple was never going to be. Sacrifices will be needed with the rewards being priceless.

Advertisers spend vast amounts of money trying to influence and persuade us to live a certain lifestyle – doing what others do [buying fancy cars, holidays etc] – but what if we were to disturb in a way that encouraged and invited others to live a different way? How could our behaviour encourage or invite others to live?

This week we need to ask ourselves, what behaviour(s) do I need to change? What are the obstacles in my life? If God called me today would I be happy to be judged on the state of my soul today? What do my answers urge me to do?

For me, my obstacles include a fear of failure, which has held me back over the years. I can often take a long time to make decisions (procrastination), which frustrates me and those around me. I have a wife who loves to challenge, whereas I struggle with challenge (I see this as an obstacle, but Pam probably sees it as an area for growth). By nature, I am quite a private person, but my calling to the Diaconate has disturbed me out of my comfort zone to be a more public figure within the Church.

This week’s Scriptures pose us lots of questions, like everything with our faith, it is how we respond to those questions which will make the difference between infinite misery or infinite happiness.

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • All the pupils, teachers and staff of schools in England as they start the new school year; that the controls in place to protect against Covid 19 are successful, so that our schools can be a healthy place for all.
  • Those who struggle with addictive behaviours, that they may seek and find the help to change.
  • Those who struggle to change or who struggle to let others help them, that they can learn to trust people and that their trust is never betrayed.
  • All clergy who have been asked to move Parishes recently, especially Fr Chris as he prepares to move to Guernsey and Fr Dominic as he prepares to come to Holy Ghost Parish, may these moves enrich their Ministry and enrich the lives of the Parishes they serve.
  • The children Baptised in St Bede’s since the lockdown restrictions were lifted – Maria, Hannah, Leonardo, Zachary, Adrielle and Amelia, as well as Charlie and Florence who are due to be Baptised this weekend.

Deacon Tony Darroch, 26th August 2020.

If you are struggling to find resources or would like suggestions please email me on adarroch@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk or if you would appreciate the odd call from me during this time please send me a message with your contact details and I will get in touch.

1Ronald Rolheiser, Prophets as Shock Absorbers, available from https://ronrolheiser.com/prophets-as-shock-absorbers/#.X0Uc7qeSmUk accessed 25th August 2020

2 John A Hardon S.J., Catholic Dictionary – An Abridged and Updated Edition of Modern Catholic Dictionary, (Image Books, New York, 2013)407-8.

3 St Katherine Drexel, Finding your Life – reproduced in The New Jerusalem Bible – Saints Devotional Edition, (Darton, Longman & Todd, London, 2002)1228.