Our Lord knew the history of his people. He was well aware of the dangerous consequences of his preaching: it would lead to persecution, suffering, and death. This didn’t have to be imagined, because it was part and parcel of his faith tradition. For example Jeremiah preached that Israel had abandoned God. He insisted that the people return to him, that they repent and be converted. For preaching this message he suffered public ridicule and imprisonment. Most of the prophets suffered for preaching God’s word, and Our Lord was fully aware that he would share the fate of Israel’s prophets.
The Pharisees knew their history too. They were using it in an attempt to intimidate Our Lord. They were reminding him that there was a steep price to pay if the religious establishment was to be challenged. In essence they told Our Lord, Stop your preaching, or else. But Our Lord, like the prophets, wouldn’t be silenced and he proclaimed loud and clear the Kingdom of God: a kingdom of justice, liberation and freedom.
So how well do we know our history? Today’s readings give us two choices: embrace Jesus Christ and continue to live out the urgency of the kingdom; or embrace the status quo and continue to live a life of accommodation. This is a difficult choice to make, especially for young people. To live for the poor and less fortunate among us is inconvenient. To pursue justice and equality for all isn’t popular. It is though, to be engaged in the work of Christ himself in order to make known the kingdom of God. Like it or not, history proves that those who work for the kingdom will face misunderstanding, estrangement, ridicule, suspicion and suffering. May we like the prophets of old and Our Lord himself have the courage to preach the Word of God to those who would rather not hear it; and suffer gladly in imitation of the prophets and martyrs who did the same.