Given the state of our church, our country, our world, it is good to remind ourselves that by our Baptism, we were all anointed “priest, prophet and king.” By our Baptism we are called to be prophets.
I thought I’d share some passages that speak to that call and what it means in our world today. Any of them make a good way to invite you to consider how you are personally being called to be a prophet – and how you are responding to that call. It is also worth spending some time identifying the greatest challenges to being a prophetic voice in the world.
Those who laugh at me, as if I were crazy to think that I am a prophet, ought to reflect on this. I have never considered myself a prophet in the sense of being unique among the people, because I know that you and I, the people of God, are a prophetic people. And my role in this is only to stimulate a prophetic sense in the people. This is something I can’t give them, rather it is the Spirit that has given it to them. And each one of you can truly say, “The Spirit came upon me when I was baptized.”
(Oscar Romero, Homily of July 8, 1979)
Some people have unusually big and generous dreams of “the world as it ought to be.” They possess a kind of prophetic imagination that enables them to look beyond the world as it is to the world as it could be or should be. Their personal dreams embody something of God’s Dream for the world. Each of us, in our own way, is called to cultivate our capacity for prophetic imagination, to find our own way of making the Dream of God a reality….[T]he primary calling of the prophet is not to be an angry social critic, but rather to be someone who, first of all, is willing to take an honest look at upsetting and unsettling realities that are denied or ignored by society at large and the powers-that-be. The tragic consequences of such denial is widespread ‘numbness” and moral complacency about things that would otherwise evoke grief and outrage….
(John Neafsey, A Sacred Voice is Calling)
Protesters are everywhere, but I think the world is desperately in need of prophets, those little voices that can point us toward another future. Some of us have spent so much time fighting what we are against that we can barely remember what we are for. Whether in the church or in circles of social dissent, there are plenty of people who define themselves by what they are not, whose identity revolves around what they are against rather then what they are for. …Protesters are still on the fringes like satellites, revolving around the system. But prophets and poets lead us into a new world, beyond simply yelling at the old one.
(Shane Claiborne, The Irresistible Revolution)
It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
(RFK, Speech at University of Cape Town, June 6, 1966)