This man must die,
for he has spoken against the City…
Jeremiah 26: 11
Today’s readings present us with the challenge the prophets give to all those in power.
Jeremiah has attacked the complacency and idolatry of the religious leaders, who trust in their power and fail to turn the hearts of the people to the Lord.
John the Baptist has attacked the power and lechery of Herod. The Gospels connect John’s death with his illicit union with his brother’s wife; Flavius Josephus suggested that Herod feared that John’s preaching would provoke a rebellion.
The prophets threaten the status quo; they threaten the idolatry of the powers that be. As Fr. Dan Berrigan, S.J., puts it, they “defame the motherland.”
But how often do we Christians put our trust in the nation state or in our status as “good Christians” or “good Americans”? These are all too easy temptations?
Where does our real allegiance lie?
In whom do we really trust?
And, are we really willing to challenge the Powers that be?