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The Word, The Truth

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Homily for Wednesday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time, 08 June 2022, Mt 5:17-19

This Latin saying means THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE IS THE VOICE OF GOD. A lot of people think that this line is written in the Bible; it is not.

Our first reading today is one perfect example of a situation where the voice of the people is not the voice of God. Here’s the background: the ambitious Queen Jezebel had succeeded in influencing her husband, King Ahab, to abuse his power. He turned away from the God of Israel who had liberated them from slavery and led them to freedom in the promised land.

Together, this couple had inflicted upon Israel a reign of terror. At some point the voice of God could not be heard anymore by the people because the king and the queen had ordered the massacre of all the prophets of Israel until there was only one left—the prophet Elijah. They had replaced their prophets with the false prophets of Baal, who loved to perform all sorts of gimmickry. They had also succeeded in getting the majority of the people to listen to these false prophets and forsake their covenant with the God of Israel by worshipping instead the tribal god of the Canaanites, called BAAL.

Despite this situation, Elijah dared the people to declare freely in public their choice— as to which God they intended to follow: the God of Israel, or the Canaanite idol Baal? But the people simply remained silent, obviously because they were afraid of the consequences of making a stand that truly reflected their will. You see, sometimes what you call “the voice of the people is not truly THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE.” It can be a voice that is manipulated by a few voices.

And so the prophet Elijah instead dares the false prophets to prove that their idol really listens to their prayers. These false prophets now build an altar and offer animal sacrifices. They call on their god Baal the whole day, but they get no answer. They perform all sorts of religious rituals and gimmicks, dancing and hopping around the altar and even cutting their skin to induce themselves into a trance. But they still get no answer. The writer says it almost poetically; “There was not a sound; no one answered, and NO ONE WAS LISTENING.”

Elijah proved himself to be the true prophet not by dancing and lacerating himself or getting into all sorts of theatrics but by listening to the God of Israel in his prayer. This is what he says in his prayer when his turn comes, “Answer me, Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, Lord, are God and that YOU HAVE BROUGHT THEM BACK TO THEIR SENSES.”

That last line in his prayer is what I find most fascinating. He is praying that God “bring the Israelite people BACK TO THEIR SENSES.” Meaning, that they recover their TRUE VOICE. He knew that this was not possible unless they opened their minds and hearts to listen to God through his prophets. The voice of God empowers the people to express their true voice. Sure enough, this is what happens after the Lord appeared again in the form of fire the way Yahweh did to Moses in the burning bush. It was the fire of God’s Word that finally enlightened their minds that had been darkened for too long.

This is also what Jesus is saying in the Gospel. It is only God’s Word, down to its smallest letter, that will come like fire and empower the people so that the voice of God can truly become the voice of the people: Vox Dei, vox populi. Only in this way will they discover their true greatness and bring about the kingdom of heaven here on earth.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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