“As Jesus was anointed priest, prophet and king, so may you live always as a member of his body.” These words accompany the anointing with sacred chrism at baptism. So we can say with confidence that each of us, as baptized members of Christ, is in a various degree, a disciple and even a prophet. In particular, this holds true if we do not look at prophets as people who foretell the future. In a more general use of the word, a “prophet” is one who speaks for God, who speaks boldly about real life places of injustice, and pain and need. A prophet desires to build up and strengthen the church.
This weekend, before Mass begins, look around. You are surrounded by prophets. Most likely it will not take long before your gaze falls upon someone and you l think, “Well, I highly doubt that person is a prophet. I know him. I know his family; no good can come from there.”
You will have echoed the words spoken in this Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus was in Nazareth for a visit. The local boy had come back. He tried to proclaim the good news, but the hometown folks complained, “We know his family. They’re nobody. Why is he putting himself up?” They dismiss him and, in doing so, God’s love can’t touch them.
Keeping this in mind, once again look around. Express to God your gratitude for the many ways your brothers and sisters in Christ are serving as prophets within your parish family. Then look at yourself and consider how your mission as a prophet can be lived out in today’s world.
First, we must be attentive to the word of God as it is proclaimed to us at Mass. We must be faithful to the Lord Jesus as he nourishes us in the Eucharist. We cannot speak in Jesus’ name if we have not listened to his word or united ourselves to him in the Eucharist.
Act with courage. Many people do not like to hear the words of a prophet. Do you have family or friends who have been discouraged or depressed? Perhaps you have already listened, offered advice and been supportive; but have you talked about Jesus. Have you shared how Jesus walks with us? Have you offered to pray with them?
Have you witnessed something unethical at your job? Are there abuses among people you know? Someone needs to speak God’s word in these situations. You are someone.
If you see a child being bullied, will you walk up to the antagonist and say, “Stop it. What you’re doing is wrong.”
When you attend a parish meeting, do you speak up and share the vision you might have for ways for your parish to grow into a more holy Christlike place of Gospel living? Do you really respect and honor the bit of prophecy within each of your church members?
In the sacrament of baptism we have been commissioned to be ordinary prophets. We must pray that God will give us the ability to prophesy not only in words, but by the way we live. And when “our own” reject us, we can remain faithful and try again. Ordinary people can be ordinary prophets because we have been touched by, inspired, caught up in and united to Jesus who is priest, prophet and king.
Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.