Who is a prophet?
One of the great promises for the people of God after the coming of Christ is that from then on they will all be prophets. It is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which we all receive through baptism. And whilst Paul tells us that some have a special gift in this area it is nonetheless true that we are all called to a prophetic ministry in the same way Jesus sent the disciples out with a prophetic mandate. That is what life should be about for a Christian .. not a settled life of self-centredness but a pilgrim life of outward prophetic mission.
What is a prophet?
What is it about prophets which causes such a stir in the people to whom they prophesy. I wonder what you think it means to prophesy?
We have become somewhat caught up in the idea that to prophesy has a future focus to it. We see prophets as rather like astrologers or women with a crystal ball predicting what will happen in the future. But this is not it at all … prophecy is not prediction.
Prophecy is a message or a call to change. It is a challenge to the way things are done. It is an approach to life which says … this is not right and it needs to stop or change. This is where both the Prophets find themselves in trouble. The prophet is one who delivers the Divine perspective on things in the here and now. An intermediary of God’s word on contemporary issues.
So prophecy is about a message of change. A different way of seeing things. Not a prediction of what the future will look like in the future but of what the world could look like now if we behaved differently. We are called to go and to teach people that it is possible to change. That is what it means to preach a message of repentance. To repent is to change isn’t it?
If we are a prophetic people we are called to be changed and to preach change in our world. That is why we will sometimes face a hostile response. That is why people will say to us leave us alone .. go away .. keep your message to yourself. We are fine as we are thank you.
How do we prophesy?
Not so much with words but with transformed lives. Not with our mouths but with our actions. This is why Amos was such a powerful prophet, because he had been changed from a shepherd to a prophet, his vocation had changed. It was why Jesus message was so powerful in a way .. because everyone knew this was just a carpenter from Nazareth and yet he spoke with authority.
The power of the prophetic message comes from the fact that we have been changed by what we have seen and heard through Jesus. We no longer store up possessions or work for our own ends but we focus on changing the lives of the sick and poor and the oppressed.
And we do this with our lives not our mouths … so like the prophets who have gone before us , when our mouths are silenced the message still rings out loud and clear because of our lives.