Prophets? No thanks!
The Word today portrays Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus as prophets. At first thought, we might be inclined to think that is a wonderful thing – to be called to be a prophet. After all, prophets speak God’s Word and call people into relationship with God. Right? Not so simple or glamorous, as we recognize in the readings. Ezekiel is warned that his listeners are a “rebellious house”, not too inclined to hear a prophetic word that calls them to conversion. Paul bears a “thorn” to prevent him from becoming too proud of his role; he is challenged to recognize that God really only works through Paul’s weakness. And finally, Jesus is rejected by his hometown folks because, really, could a person known to everyone from birth be called by God to be a prophet?
At our baptism, we are anointed priest, prophet and ruler. Priest is something we can identify with, as we associate priesthood with prayer, celebrating God’s love, sharing God’s gifts with others. We can all fulfill that call. Ruler is a rather different matter for us today, as the idea of exercising power is not something that we can expect in our lives, for the most part, as we generally equate that with political power.
But the idea of being anointed prophet is one well beyond our notion of probability. Who of us feels competent to speak God’s Word in a way that calls and challenges others to conversion? Of course, as Paul would remind us, our baptismal call to be prophetic is not something that we can do on our own. Rather than offering a life of comfort and safety, this baptismal call puts great expectations on us; expectations that can only be met when we recognize our individual weakness and open ourselves to the indwelling of the Spirit and the power of Christ dwelling in us and personified in the Christian community.
As prophets, we are called to proclaim that the reign of God is at hand and to co-create a just and loving society. As we hear the call as individuals and community to live out our baptismal call to be prophets, our response, rather than being “who am I to do this”, should be a resounding “sign me up!”
By Richard Beaudette, OMI