It is not often that we encounter a prophet of God completely lose his senses when it comes to proclaiming God’s message to His people. However, such an incident did occur and it involved the prophet, Jeremiah. He delivers what one may describe as a holy tirade against the wickedness of a group of invaders who were allowed to conquer Israel due to Israel’s unwillingness to repent of their sins before God.
As one of God’s greatest prophet’s Jeremiah expressed anger and frustration in dealing with these people and ultimately asks God why the wicked and treacherous appear to continue to live and thrive. Jeremiah affirms God’s authority as the author and creator of all things and pleads with Him to rid him of these communities like sheep to the slaughter. What we encounter in Jeremiah’s conversation with God is a spiritual fatigue that has set in dealing with people who consistently reject God’s love and instead choose a path of self-righteousness.
God in his infinite wisdom and patience, explains to Jeremiah as only a loving father could that he will minister to the people of Israel who had failed to repent of their sins and as a result were allowed to be conquered by foreign invaders. The climax of this story is that God explains to Jeremiah that all-both Jew and Gentile have the opportunity for repentance if they so choose. If not, then God will destroy them all because of their wickedness.
The Proclamation of Murmuring
When someone chooses to proclaim the kerygma, and for the sake of this article the kerygma is defined as: the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and the salvation of humanity from sin and death, the content of the “Good News” is first and foremost Jesus Christ who was crucified and suffered death for the salvation of the entire human race. The message of the kerygma is to expose and joyfully express the love God has for his children through the death and resurrection of his Son offered in sacrifice to conquer sin and death forever.
The antithesis of the kerygma I argue is the proclamation of murmuring if you will. To murmur means to complain or be dismissive of a message, act, or idea in a subtle, quiet way. It also I argue is a gradual disregard for objective. St. Luke’s Gospel provides with a clear example of what the act of murmuring looks like:
After this he went out, and saw the tax collector, named Levi, sitting at the tax office; and he said to him, follow me. And he left everything and rose and followed him. And Levi made him a great feast in his house; and there was a large company of tax collectors and others sitting at table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes murmured against his disciples, saying, why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners. And Jesus answered them, those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
In the great Eucharistic discourse proclaimed in chapter six of St. John’s Gospel, we encounter both Jew and Gentile quietly murmur against Christ because of His direct proclamation that He is the bread of life that came down from heaven. They refuse to acknowledge that a man they supposedly know from Nazareth whose parents are Joseph and Mary would dare make such a bold proclamation. Jesus calls out their murmuring ways and explains to them that the way to our Father in heaven is through son Jesus Christ.
How does one address the temptation to murmur?
The mission to proclaim the Gospel will always involve the interaction of the human condition with the Divine. The key is to make sure the human condition does not overshadow the Divine condition who is Jesus Christ. A sound proclamation of the Gospel involves speaking well of Jesus Christ and not of ourselves. The temptation to murmur arises when we desire our own word above the Word of God. This potential pattern of behavior may tempt the evangelist to complain, reject, and ultimately murmur against the person their evangelizing or worse yet against Christ Himself.
A way to combat the temptation to murmur is by engaging in a daily examination of conscience keeping oneself mindful that all of us our fallible and need divine assistance. Second, spending time in Eucharistic Adoration and proclaiming the true presence of Christ in your life who is the living bread that came down from heaven. Third, earnestly desire to live a life saturated in the Word of God and the sacramental life. Make sure you are always spiritually nourished in order to avoid the near occasion to murmur.
As we continue our journey to proclaim the Gospel as baptized Christians let us take solace in the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. “The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.