Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection – November 11, 2021
Reflection for the 32nd Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 11-11-21, Year B
Readings: Wis 7:22b-8:1, Ps 119:89,90,91,130,135,175, Gospel Lk 17:20-25
Mem: St. Martin of Tours, Bishop
Theme: False Prophets Without Wisdom
On November 18th, 1978, in Jonestown, Guyana, Jim Jones, leader of the Peoples Temple, would instruct his followers, 900 total of which 300 were children, to drink cyanide- laced punch in order to commit the final “White Night” (mass suicide) because their cult life was under attack from the outside world. Rather than be captured and infused back into an evil world of lies, Jones convinced his followers to commit suicide and live on with him in the afterlife.
Jones described himself, “in messianic terms and claimed he was the reincarnation of figures like Christ and Buddha.” 1 The followers of Jones were convinced that he was a form of deity and so, by their own choice, drank the poisoned punch. Unfortunately, they were deceived and perished as a result.
There are countless stories of people following false prophets and cults, convinced that the almighty power of God is with them and in their midst in the person or persons they follow. In less extreme examples, many people believe in all kinds of practices, beliefs, and false deities that lead them astray from the one truth, Jesus Christ.
Today’s readings help us to understand the difference between false prophets and true prophets. Between a false god and the true God. The book of Wisdom, as the St. Joseph Missal states, is “a reflection of eternal light…. It shows the goodness of God. Wisdom prevails, showing the majesty of God.” If we scrutinize false prophets under the light of “Wisdom” their maleficence stands out and we will know not to follow them.
From our first reading today, wisdom is described perfectly, “For she is an aura of the mighty God and pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty. She is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness.” False prophets will not be able to stand up to this testimony of the will and character of one who possesses the wisdom of God.
Christ, in a very serious and convincing manner, tells His disciples that there will be no confusion or question of who He is when He returns at the end of time. Many will claim to be Him, and many will be drawn away because of their lack of faith and understanding of who Jesus is. Jesus warns His disciples, do not follow them. He states, in no uncertain terms, through the imagery of lightning that lights up the entire sky, that every single person on earth will know of His coming. His coming will not be just for a chosen few or a select group of people who think they have some providence over others with the Almighty. No, everyone will know, and it will be awesome, frightening and transforming for all of us.
St. Martin of Tours, France, knew the right path and the right people to follow. Even though his parents wanted him to have a life in the military, he knew that Christ was calling him. He knew that people needed an excellent example of how to live for Christ. There were many false teachers and prophets leading the people astray in his time, so he set out to make things right. St. Martin left the military to learn all he could about Jesus and the Catholic faith under the direction of St. Hilary. Soon he became a priest and shortly thereafter, was named Bishop of Tours, France. He was an excellent example of the ideal pastor. He founded many monasteries and educated the clergy in the right path of stewardship over God’s flock. He preached the Gospel to the poor and vowed to always help them. St. Martin never claimed to be anything other than a sinful human being doing what he could for his fellow man with the gifts God gave him. St. Martin died peacefully in 397 of natural causes at the age of 81.
Like St. Martin, do not be fooled or convinced by charismatic, tainted, and confused individuals, who believe there is another way other than Christ, to heaven’s gate and God the Almighty. Stay the course and follow Christ’s teachings. If you do, you will have nothing to fear when Christ comes, for He will search your heart and know the truth that lies within it and He will say to you, “Well done my good and faithful servant, come and share your master’s joy.”
Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who served, past, present and future! We owe you a debt of gratitude and salute you for all you have done. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and may God bless you always!