THE ERA OF THE ‘LYING MEN OF GOD’
First Reading: Jeremiah 28:1-17
Responsorial Psalm: 118(119):29,43,79-80,95,102
Gospel Reading: Matthew 14:22-36
One of the problems we face in Christianity is the presence of “false prophets” who claim to speak in the name of the Lord. Most ‘men of God’ are celebrated today because of the successful prediction they’ve made in the name of ‘prophecy.’ When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out early this year, causing many to ‘sit at home,’ and lots of others displaced and dying in the hospitals, some ‘lying prophets’ prophesied about the immediate end of the virus, but unfortunately the pandemic is still on till now, and still ravaging the lives of many. If the virus had disappeared as they prophesied, they would have been considered and celebrated as true men of God, whereas what they only did was a mere prediction. The fact is that this religious issue has been a perennial problem as well in Judaism, as today’s first reading points out.
In the first reading, prophet Hananiah, announces the release of the deportees in Babylon and the return of the temple’s treasures. To guarantee his words, he carried out a symbolic action: he broke the yoke that Jeremiah wore around his neck, as a sign of the heavy dominion imposed by Babylon on Judah. In view of Hananiah’s words and action, Jeremiah reminds him, and all who saw the scene, that the prophecy is only true when it is fulfilled. Isn’t it funny that when there is a global or national problem, the first thing a modern-day ‘man of God’ does is to tell lies or prophesy an immediate solution in the name of God, without first communing with God to understand the message God may be passing across through the problem or why the people are faced with such a problem? This was the case of Hananiah in the first reading and it did not end well with him. He paid the price of lying with his very life.
Dear friends in Christ, we should beware of religious deception – the presence of false prophets lying here and there through prophecies and deceiving many. We should also learn to be patient with God when experiencing difficulties and challenges instead of seeking an immediate solution. God has a way of sending a message across even in the midst of the difficulties we face today. This we also see in today’s gospel. Here, the disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, battling with a heavy sea and a strong head-wind, from evening until the fourth watch of the night (the next day, around 3 am-6 am) when Christ decided to intervene in their situation. Often times, we also find ourselves in similar challenging situations, what keeps us going should be the virtue of patience and hope. Likewise, the present pandemic has taught us all a lesson of patience and hope. Therefore, we should beware of those who are out there to deceive the world in the name of God through their lies. In the gospels, Christ said that an increase in lying and deceit will be a hallmark of the end time. Jesus speaks particularly of religious deception, especially of false prophets who would come in his name to preach falsehood and deceive many.
Unfortunately, every “Christian” Church worldwide professes Christ as the Saviour, but do their ministers preach the truth of the gospel of Christ even if it goes against the happiness of many? Sadly, many Christians only lookout for “prosperity gospel preachers” (the lying prophets) and shut their ears from listening to the gospel of the cross of Christ – the true gospel. Today’s message admonishes us to patiently bear with difficulties and challenges like the Jews in exile and Babylon and should not be led astray by the lies of the false prophets. Above all, we should learn to pray like today’s Psalmist “Keep me from the way of error and teach me your law.”
© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Fatima, Vila Sabrina, São Paulo, Brazil
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