DON’T WE NEED PROPHETS?
A great prophet has arisen in our midst. Thus were the people shouting in villages of Galilee, surprised by Jesus’ words and actions. This is not what happens, however, in Nazareth when he introduces himself before his neighbors as the one anointed as Prophet of the poor.
Jesus observes first their admiration, and later their rejection. He is not surprised. He reminds them of a well-known proverb: Amen, I say to you I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Later, when they expel him out of the town and try to do away with him, Jesus leaves them. The narrator says that he passed through the midst of them and walked away. Nazareth is left without the Prophet Jesus.
Jesus is and acts like a prophet. He is not a temple priest or a teacher of the law. His life is within the framework of Israel’s prophetic tradition. In contrast to the kings and priests, the prophet is not named or anointed by anyone else. His authority comes from God who is determined to encourage and guide his beloved people with his Spirit when political and religious leaders do not know how to do so. It is not by accident that Christians confess a God made flesh as a prophet.
The traits of the prophet are unmistakable. In the middle of an unjust society where the powerful seek their welfare, silencing the suffering of those who mourn, the prophet dares to read and to live reality from the perspective of God’s compassion for the least. His whole life becomes an “alternative presence” that criticizes injustice and calls for repentance and change.
On the other hand, when religion itself gets comfortable with an unjust order and its interests no longer respond to God’s interests, the prophet shakes up indifference and self-deception, criticizes the illusion of eternity and absoluteness, which threatens every religion, and reminds everyone that God alone saves. His presence ushers in new hope, since he invites people to think about the future from the perspective of God’s freedom and love.
A Church that ignores the prophetic dimension of Jesus and of his followers runs the risk of being left without prophets.
- The lack of priests concerns us and we pray for vocations to the priestly ministry. Why not pray that God raise up prophets? Do we not need them? Do we not feel the need to raise up the prophetic spirit in our communities?
- Does a Church without prophets not run the risk of going about deaf to God’s calls to repentance and change?
- Is a Christianity without prophetic spirit not in danger of remaining controlled by order, tradition and the fear of God’s newness?
January 31, 2016
4 Sunday in O.T. (C)
Luke 4, 21-30