Monday, July 16, 2012

The challenge of being truly prophetic Christians

Regular readers to this weekly column of mine would know that in quite a few blog entries in the past, I have always reiterated Vatican II's call for each baptized person to live out as Priest, Prophet and King, something which seems to easily escape the mind of many a baptized Catholic.

The call to live out the priestly or kingly status is far less challenging and demanding than the call to be prophetic.  Of course the priestly and kingly dignity is not just a reminder that we are royalty and holy people.  At its depth is the call to be kingly with an option to serve those who have not yet found their dignity.  It is also a call to be holy while at the same time not brandish our holiness in any superior way making others feel belittled and sidelined.  These challenges within challenges are complex enough. 

But the call to live prophetically is the one which I reckon makes the most demands of anyone who is truly interested and longing to be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Not only is the true prophet one who is often despised in his own home and in his own country, a true prophet needs to constantly put the will of God in front of his own will and desires.  True prophets do not only preach what is expected and generally accepted as 'nice' or PC (politically correct) messages to the crowd, but when the true need arises, bring to attention even the unpleasant truths, which will often make even those in family, and close circles squirm in their seats.

Of course this means that the prophet himself would have had his own fare share of self-squirming done before he set out to say and addresses what needed to be said and addressed.  I have come to see that the attitude with which one confronts and challenges positions of power and even authority can belie the level of maturity that one has or has not reached.

Thus, just going against the ruling regime for the sake of being a belligerent opposition to unsettle the status quo, would be a clear indication that one has some ways to go before reaching true spiritual maturity.  Similarly, just wanting to say things and make statements that have a "shock value” for listeners could also indicate that one is still new to the task of true prophecy.  Jesus the true prophet did many things that shocked and challenged, but that was never his intention.  People may have been shocked as a result of his actions and words, but his words were not primarily aimed at disturbing the peace for the sake of doing so.  When truth is said and love is shown, especially in a radical and godly level, the ripple effects would, very often, be that there will be people who will be disturbed and even provoked in response.  This is inevitable.  But if we do things and say things just so that we get a provoked response, we can be sure that we have not been truly prophetic.  It could even be a hidden way of being attention seeking, as bit like the media hungry celebrities who like to do anything outrageous just so that they can to get any form of publicity.

That is why if one truly is interested in living out one's call to be prophetic, it is also necessary that one learns first to listen to God's soft promptings in one's heart.  When this still, small voice is given the opportunity and space to be magnified properly and loudly, one will first of all hear how richly one is loved by God, and this will purify one's motives so that one does not need to do anything that would inflate any sense of the self that can come when a massive negative response emerges from one's prophetic words and actions.


  1. Dear Fr. Luke

    Thank you for your kind reminder. Indeed, being God's chosen people (kingly) , is the most sacred role in the religious world, but often, the listeners may find their preaching apathetic. It has been preached that being holy does not mean that one just attend regular masses/prayers, but to have that deep love for God and the ability to love the people around them. Does that mean they are indeed nonchalent to the earthly ties or being cut-off?

    God bless you

  2. I do agree with “but the call to live prophetically is the one which I reckon makes the most demands of anyone who is truly interested and longing to be a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ...’’ and I find it the most daunting! For I can’t imagine how I could be a prophet without losing my head ( metaphorically of this day and age) –we cannot be called to be a modern day Jeremiah or John the Baptist – for these are ‘special breed’ - surely? ( or so I thought )

    Then on Sunday, the first reading says of Amos.... “I was a shepherd, and looked after was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, ...... Go prophesy to the people...’’ and our study of John’s Gospel with Fr Ambrose did say this of John the Baptist..... ‘’John performed no sign, but everything that John say about this man (Jesus) was true.........”

    On reflection, I was struck by the fact that these ‘’greats’’ were really ordinary men, they did not perform great miracles – but they became extra-ordinary- they were prophets, because – obedient to God’s will, they were willing witnesses of the Truth or the Light. For example- this was said of John, ‘’he came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light......’’ And Amos was just as resolute, refusing to be dismissed by Amaziah, priest of Bethel – until he had done the prophesying to the people of Israel- just as God had told him to.

    As Christians claiming to be disciples of Jesus, we must also be ready to do likewise..... ‘to bear witness to the Light..’’ – not in any big ostentatious way, but in our words and actions in our daily life ( in whatever station in life we are placed) to help point others to the Light. For the second Sunday reading seems to reiterate this commitment of ours to do so, giving the reason that – ‘’Now you too, in him, have heard the message of the truth and the good news of your salvation, and have believed it: and you too have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise,......’’

    God bless you, Fr