Jeremiah 7: 23-28
Luke 11: 14-23


Words from the prophet Jeremiah today take me back to 1997 and the Australian Reconciliation Convention that I was privileged to attend.  “They did not listen; they did not pay attention. They refused to face me and turned their backs on me. From the day your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until today, I have persistently sent you all my servants, the prophets. But they have not listened to them, have not paid attention”.

Do we know how to hear and listen to the prophets now? As I sat in the Reconciliation Convention, the prophet’s words came to me. Prime Minister Howard could not bring himself to acknowledge and then apologise for the enormous harm done to the original inhabitants of this land in the collision of cultures that English settlement brought to this “great south land”. More than a thousand of my indigenous brothers and sisters listened carefully, and then they stood and silently turned their backs on the speaker. They faced the back of the giant meeting room. This felt like a real moment of truth to me.

Jeremiah was an extraordinary leader on whom the Lord laid a heavy burden of prophecy. As he faced the challenge of rejection and defiance, Jeremiah spoke the oracle of the New Covenant that has been called the “gospel before the Gospel.”

As Prime Minister Howard failed the moment, a thousand faces silently turn away from him.

A good question as we face the many pressures from social media with its mixture of truth, mistruth and untruth on the rapidly changing face of our world today is surely “Which way am I facing?”

The response given to us today is, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” So the Lenten question that is directed to me today is: which way am I facing?

At the end of Jesus’ words today comes the challenge: “If you are not for me, with me, you are against me”!

Surely, with the state of threat within our world today, now is the time for real prophets, for real listening, for real prophecy to speak God’s word for NOW.

Fr. Kevin Dance CP is the vicar of the St.Brigid’s Retreat, Marrickville. He is very actively involved in ministries locally and at Passionist International where he served as the Executive Director for many years.