God’s Invitation: Be a Prophet!
While I am away on my annual vacation, weekly Reflections will be presented for your consideration.
This weekend our nation celebrates 239 years since the founding fathers declared their independence from England. They wrote: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable right, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
We can think of these words as being prophetic. We often think of “prophetic” in terms of either speaking against the establishment or being able to see in the future. The first sense of the prophet is an “anti” viewthe modern prophet is anti-government and anti-church. The second sense of prophet is a visionary view. We certainly see both views in today’s Scripture readings. We hear these senses in our patriotic speak: our founding fathers spoke of a better tomorrow for our nation.
While these senses of prophecy are true, the foundation from which the prophet is able to speak is his relationship with Godthe prophet is always pro-God, pro-covenant, and pro-faithfulness. The prophet is one who speaks in God’s name and with God’s authority. None of us is equipped to be a prophet because of what we have done but by who we areone incorporated into the Body of Christ through baptism. At our baptism, each one of us was charged to go into the world, carrying the flame of faith, to bring the light of Christ to those living in darkness.
A prophet sometimes is set apart, but most often, the prophet lives in the midst of the community. This is the sense in which Pope Francis spoke about the leaders of the church “smelling like the sheep.” Whether set apart or living as a member of the community, the prophet always lives within the tradition of the law of God since a prophet is also recognized as speaking in God’s name and in his authority.
Most important, the prophet relies upon the power of Christ. Since the prophet is not without honor, except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house, he must rely not upon his own resources but on the power that comes from Christ. Answering the call to be a prophet is to place our trust in God.
God is inviting each one of us to heed his call and do something. The Eucharist invites us to listen to God’s Word and to come to know the truth more deeply. How is God calling us to speak in his name and in his authority? To whom are we sent? Are we going to let our pre-conceptions, our fears, our mistrusts, our prejudices get in the way or are we going to trust the God who promises that “power is made perfect in weakness?”
Father Luft is a monk of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota
and an adjunct instructor at the School of Theology at Saint John’s University.
—Matthew Luft, OSB