Both of the readings for mass today talk about prophets. The prophets spoke for God. Many people think that prophets foretold the future and that may have been the case sometimes, but mostly prophets are God’s voice in the world. Prophets allow God to speak through them and do not interject anything of their own. False prophets always lead the focus back to themselves in the long run, but genuine prophets always lead people back to God. That was the case with the prophet Haggai in the first reading for mass today. God told Haggai to “Speak now” to the people to ask them this question, “Who is left among you that saw this house in it’s former glory? How does it look to you now?”
God has a way of renewing mankind, even all of us as well. The first reading is really a beautiful thing because it speaks of God’s abiding presence with His people, that He never leaves them, just like He never left the Israelite people after He led them out of Egypt. God tells the people to “take courage” and that “my spirit abides among you, do not fear.” This is still true today. God is with us too, and always will be. Just when we think we are alone and He may have forgotten us, He reaches out for us once again, renewing our faith in Him and our love for Him in the process.
However, God is speaking of the renewal of the church in the first reading today. “I will fill this house with splendor.” All the treasures of the world belong to him and are at His disposal. Through the prophet Haggai, God said “The latter splendor of this house shall be greater than the former.” He was speaking of the beauty of the physical temple in this reading. However, many of the prophets also spoke of the coming of the Messiah, the son of God, like John the Baptist did.
In the gospel reading Jesus asked his disciples who did the crowds think he was? And their first response was John the Baptist. Then, they said the prophet Elijah or maybe one of the ancient prophets had returned to them. To this day, many other religions believe that Jesus was simply a prophet sent by God. The reason Christians believe differently is because of Peter’s response to the Lord’s question of “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “the Messiah of God”. God revealed this to Peter. Even Christ said that flesh and blood did not reveal this knowledge to Peter, but only God Himself had done this.
Jesus didn’t want his disciples to tell anyone that he was the Messiah until after he had fulfilled his mission, to be rejected and suffer and die for our sins, then be raised on the last day.
Prophets in the bible were God’s voice in the world, but modern day prophets are also God’s voice in the world. We are called to proclaim Christ in our world too. When Christ ascended into heaven he commanded his disciples to “proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth”. There is a formal way of doing this, through the priesthood and within the structure of the Catholic church, but we are all also called to proclaim Christ to the world as well. We belong to a royal priesthood, even if lay people are not ordained. There are many opportunities in life to speak one on one with another person, especially during difficult or trying times and remind them that Jesus died for their sins and was raised to eternal life. But, the best way to proclaim Christ is how we live our lives. So many things are out of our control and we should not feel guilty about them, but how we proclaim Christ is how we respond to the people and events that take place in our lives. We can’t control other people’s actions, but we can control how we respond to them.
Another way of proclaiming Christ that seems to be lacking in our everyday world is to simply talk about him. Catholics talk about so many other things in the course of their day, but we seldom talk about Jesus Christ. We talk about the pope, the latest legislation, abortion, gay marriage, the latest scandals with the clergy or politicians, etc. but we seldom talk about Jesus. We also do not talk about the scriptures very much.
The challenge for us today might be to find some new ways to proclaim Jesus Christ to the world in our everyday life. You might be surprised at the responses you get from the people around you if you do this. It will often spark a conversation with people who simply overheard your discussion with another person during lunch, on the subway, bus, train or at the airport, for an example. Just bringing our faith out in the open will often open the doors to other people’s hearts, all around us. Why not give it a try today? You might just discover that strangers are often friends you’ve just never met.