Oct 022014

Nobody likes prophets. Prophets nag constantly — reminding the community what the community already knows it should be doing but is not doing. The prophets’ unpleasant task is irritating, offensive and guilt inducing. Communities often resort to extremely but subtle measures to silence, if not outright shun, ban and exclude prophets altogether from community life.
Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 21:33-43) prophets remind the community about the fruit the Lord is looking to harvest. The vineyard is “…people that produce the fruits of the kingdom.”
Just to name a few, “…the fruits of the kingdom” are justice, peace, mercy, compassion, nonviolence, feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, self-emptying and self-surrendering love for every human being no matter who they are or where ever they are.
The Lord sends prophets to remind the community of the fruit the Lord wishes to harvest. As Sunday’s Gospel describes, the responses get really messy and downright violent.
Any community that listens to Sunday’s Gospel has to make a decision about its prophets. Does the community reject and persecute? Or does the community listen and begin the change and conversion necessary for producing the fruit of the Kingdom of God?
(Father Andrew Kelly is a retired priest of the Diocese of Davenport.)

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