“The gifts Christ gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, to for building up the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11
Prophets. Not fortune tellers, crystal ball interpreters or palm readers (scripture clearly says ‘don’t go there’ in Deuteronomy chapter 18). Not psychics or spiritualists who advertise their powers on the internet, late night television and even the Old Farmer’s Almanac, guaranteeing “all problems resolved, money, health, business; specializing in returning lovers…” Not the proclamations announced with lurid headlines in tabloid newspapers at the checkout line that according to secret, ancient, just discovered scrolls, cave drawings or whatever…the world will come to an end in 9, 8, 7, 6…hours, months, years.
So then, how do you recognize a true prophet? A prophet’s mission, should they choose to accept it, is to preach God’s word, to call others to trust and practice God’s ways, even when those ways conflict with our own. Their voices are not always easy to hear…the challenge is the reality that what God wants for our lives, and for all creation, does not always coincide with our wants…and hasn’t every parent had that conversation with a child!
The age of the prophet did not end ‘long ago and far away’. There are still prophets in our midst. Listen to the voices across our global society who speak with conviction, backed by facts, about everything from climate change, water shortages and food security to technology, politics, economics and world health concerns. Listen to those who call us to action on the refugee crisis, homelessness, domestic violence, the dangers of fentanyl and other ‘popular’ drugs. Listen to those who challenge the church about her future!
A prophet holds up a mirror, a magnifying mirror, and even when we don’t like what we see, we can’t take our eyes away from it. “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” It reveals our faults, wrinkles, sores, stress. It exposes our secrets, our sins, our arrogance and pride. It also speaks the truth, God’s truth, in love, to nations, communities and individuals. “For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end…For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face”. 1 Corinthians 13:12
Prayer: Lord God, you call us to trust in you and in your ways, even when those ways do not coincide with our wants. Teach us to listen to the prophets in our midst. Move our lives to join you on the edge, where holy love stretches out and transforms ‘the poverty of our nature by the riches of your grace.’ Amen.
Photo: Crucifix with Christ as prophet, priest and king: wearing the robe of the prophet, the Eucharistic stole of the priest and the crown of royalty.