Woe to you! You build the memorials of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When he left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.Luke 11:47-54
From the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah: the murder of Abel is the first murder recounted in the Old Testament (Gn 4:8). The Zechariah mentioned here may be the Zechariah whose murder is recounted in 2 Chr 24:20–22, the last murder presented in the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament.New American Bible (Revised Edition) footnote to Luke 11:51
Truth-telling prophets of Israel suffered from persecution, ostracism, plotting, and murder. Messages calling for conversion, justice, and mercy were met with hostility from the powerful, worldly, jaded, and comfortable.
With the prophets eliminated, tomb veneration evolved into a pompous, respectable institution. Jesus did not come to join the line of prophets killed and venerated in tombs. His resurrection on the third day left behind an empty tomb—the final victory over sin and death.
God’s prophets lie dead in the ground,
Their messages trampled,
Their tombstones renowned.
5 Replies to “From Abel to Zechariah”
Dear GMC, May you shine brightly as you proclaim our Lord. Your reflection reminds me of this Franciscan prayer:
Risen Lord, you have broken open the tomb of death, and have brought eternal life to those who believe.
You have brought light where there was darkness.
Help those who proclaim you to shine brightly
that they may bring your light to those in darkness.
The prophets were killed for speaking truth to those who didn’t want to hear it, especially the powerful. Jesus, who is the Truth, was handed over by those who feared His Eternal Truth. Man killed God. And we’re still doing it.
Our modern society wants all truth erased. The cancel-culture is a small example of man killing truth.
Praise God who’s Truth could not be silenced, even by death.
Amen! Truth is immortal.
“This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again.”
If no one is teaching truth,
No one learns true wisdom.
Only false fake news is on the air.
If one is led by the Holy Spirit,
Only truth is learned and lived.
Lord, it’s your truth I want to bear.
Send me to spread your kingdom.
Thank you for your prayerful poem, Liz. May the Lord make you a bearer of his good news!