Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mk 6:1-6
July 4, 2021

There is no shortage of modern-day voices working to promote a cause, or a doctrine, or recruit a following to advance an ideology intended to somehow change the world.

The future is continually being “predicted,” whether in terms of dire doomsday warnings, or bright optimism, by a variety of “prophets.”

Modern-day prophets broadcast to the entire planet, in real-time, and they need to. Their prophesies are usually time sensitive. Occasionally, there is more than a kernel of truth to be had. But how often do we see predictions prove false when they fail to materialize? Ideologies come and go. Causes fade into memory. Organizations lose speed and disband.

We really need to have a healthy suspicion of any effort to influence our thinking and our actions, or risk losing the freedom we celebrate this weekend. More than ever before in human history, The Lord’s warning about false prophets, set out at Matt. 24:11, needs to be taken seriously.

Many false prophets will arise and deceive you; and because of the increase of evil-doing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.

In his homily last week, during the Mass celebrating the Feasts of SS. Peter and Paul, Pope Francis shared some thoughts that might prove helpful in discerning the true spirit in which a message is broadcast.

Like Peter, we are called to be set free from a sense of failure before our occasionally disastrous fishing (trips), to be set free from the fear that paralyzes us, makes us seek refuge in our insecurities, and robs us of the courage of prophecy.

Like Paul, we are called to be set free from hypocritical outward show, free from the temptation to present ourselves with worldly power rather than with the weakness that makes space for God, free from a religiosity that makes us rigid and inflexible, free from dubious associations with power and from the fear of being misunderstood and attacked.

It seems that the Holy Father, much like the Lord, is warning us not to be deceived by anything, or anyone, that threatens our freedom to embrace, to think, to love, and to live the Gospel. That is the only way to live free.

The words of any “wanna-be” prophet, whether written on subway walls, streaming into our homes and minds through the internet, broadcast over cable news, delivered from the grandstand at an Independence Day celebration…or preached from a pulpit…that serve to limit us in our efforts to live out the fullness of the Gospel as best we can…are FALSE.

Messages contrary to the Gospel…which in no way is time sensitive…but, instead, eternal truth…are threats to our right to live in the freedom God desires for every human being. Viewpoints that make our love for one another “grow cold” are from false prophets.

It takes courage to live The Law of Love…but it took great courage to win our nation’s independence. We risk everything when we let love “grow cold.” So, it would serve us well as a nation, as a Church, as families, neighbors, and…co-workers to do our best to “persevere to the end” in The Gospel. And, in that way, we will be saved.