Daily Reflection
August 5th, 2006

Brian Kokensparger

College of Arts and Sciences
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Dedication of St. Mary Major Basilica
Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24
Psalm 69:15-16, 30-31, 33-34
Matthew 14:1-12

Red flags go up all over the place in today’s readings.

Jeremiah’s life hangs upon the whim of the princes and the people. The priests and prophets believe he should be executed for speaking out against the city.


John the Baptist has spoken out against Herod for taking his brother’s wife against Church law. Herodias’ daughter whips Herod into a frenzy and then asks for John’s head on a silver platter.


Way back then, in the time of Jeremiah, even up to the time of Jesus, the Middle East was a dangerous place. Political maneuvering between Church leaders and civil authorities often produced times of high tension, where executions and beheadings were commonplace.

Sound familiar?

It is a time of great peril for our sisters and brothers on the other side of the globe. It is a time of anguish, a time of mourning, a martyr-producing time that even claims the lives of innocent bystanders.

Let’s not forget that it is these same sorts of circumstances that produced some of our greatest prophets, and brought forth our Savior. It is times like these where our greatest and most articulate prophets arise to speak God’s Word to the people. As in the first reading, there are priests and prophets – leaders with equal authority – who denounce the prophecy, who seek to rile up the people for bloodshed.

I am reminded, as I watch the daily news, that talk is cheap. Very cheap. There seems to be no shortage of journalists willing to put a microphone in front of anyone who is willing to say anything about the situation. Some speakers are easier to hear than others, because they say things that support the opinions I’ve already formed. If I have already made up my mind as to who is good and who is evil, then I can readily find someone who will tell me what I want to hear.

Working in an educational institution like Creighton University, though, has taught me that education is about holding off on forming an opinion until I have heard all of the evidence. Learning from others in the shadow of St. Ignatius has taught me to listen intently to differentiate the whispers characteristic of the Word from the shouts emanating from the false prophets.

We cannot do a whole lot about the events in the Middle East right now. But we can listen for the True Prophet among the false ones. We can listen intently for The Word of God among all of the words that are flying about over the airwaves, in coffee houses, in mosques, and even from the pulpit.

And when we hear the Word of God – and deep-down in our heart of hearts, we will know it when we do – when we hear it, sometimes a simple “Amen!” is all that is necessary.

It’s hard to kill the Word of God when His Prophet is surrounded by a community of believers.

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