The first reading deals with the witness of the prophet Ezekiel. The Gospel deals with the witness of the prophet Jesus. Both accounts leave no doubt that the prophet is in for trouble: the people, “rebels who have rebelled against God,” find the prophet “too much for them.” Paul describes what awaits the prophet: mistreatment, distress, persecutions and difficulties.
Our age has had its prophets: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, Archbishop Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton, Mahatma Gandhi, Pope John XXIII. Theirs were not easy lives, and many of them were killed by “rebels who have rebelled against God.” Because of their lives, which bore witness to “the power of Christ,” the rest of us have been able to grow in faith.
“Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites.” (First Reading) That message to Ezekiel echoes in God’s sending of today’s prophets. It would be a mistake to think that only Romero and Gandhi and those like them had a calling to be prophets.
We believe that we are a prophetic race, called to be prophets in the midst of “a rebellious house.” Our task is “to bring Good News to the poor,” to speak God’s word in such a way that “they shall know that a prophet has been among them.”
The consequence of such prophecy will inevitably be trial and difficulty, but also the victory of the God whose “right hand is filled with justice.”
We urge (everyone), again and again, to spare no labors and let no difficulties conquer them, but rather to become day by day more courageous and more valiant. Arduous indeed is the task which We propose to them, for We know well that ... there are many obstacles and barriers to be overcome. Let them not, however, lose heart; to face bitter combats is a mark of Christians, and to endure grave labors to the end is a mark of them who, as good soldiers of Christ, follow him closely.
Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 1931:138