Memorial of St. There of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church
(Ephesians 1:1-10; Luke 11:47-54)
Prophets by profession encounter opposition. They speak on behalf of God judgments that many do not want to hear. In St. Teresa’s world a prophetic issue concerned religious lifestyle. Women would enter convents with their servants in tow. They often lived more comfortably than ascetically and thus betrayed their evangelical vocation. Not liking it, Teresa founded monasteries of a strict rule. Carmelite superiors opposed her, but she was working with the Holy Spirit. Her reform won acceptance and has been the source of blessing for the order and the Church.
In today’s gospel Jesus prophetically chastises religious leaders. He finds them betraying the very people they pretend to emulate. He claims that the Pharisees do not heed the prophets to whose memories they pay tribute. Likewise, Jesus castigates the scribes for both not learning the meaning of the Law and not enabling others to know it. Like the martyred prophets, Jesus can expect a violent death because of these charges.
Few want to suffer the fate of the prophets. Yet sometimes we must speak up against flagrant injustices in church and society. Perhaps there is racial slander among the people with whom we work. That needs to be addressed. Perhaps donations for charity are being squandered. That too must be challenged. We should not expect praise for speaking out in these matters. But we might expect the promise of the beatitudes: “’Blessed are they who are persecuted for justice’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.’”