Dear friends. The second reading this weekend refers to the ‘great cloud of witnesses’ that surround us and who encourage us to live the Christian life. One of the things we all have in common as members of the great ‘cloud of witnesses’ is that we have been anointed prophets at our baptism. Here I would like to reflect a little on what that means for us today. These observations are based on the first reading today that features the prophet Jeremiah and the Gospel where Jesus Christ is recognised as being the great prophet as well as the Messiah and the Saviour. What does it mean then to share in the prophetic ministry of Christ?
There are four things that mark us as prophets. First, the prophet is a person of prayer whose words and actions are under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the case of Jeremiah and Jesus, the words they spoke were not their own but those of God. Today’s readings invite us again to place our whole lives and witness under the guidance of God and in the words of today’s second reading ‘let us not lose sight of Jesus who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection’.
Second, the prophet is a person who has a passion for what is right, not who is right. The prophetic Christian has a passion, a fire in their belly for what is true as opposed to what is false, for what is right as opposed to what is wrong and for what is everlasting as opposed to what is temporary. Jesus message to us was not ‘be nice people’ or ‘make sure you get along with everyone’. Without doubt there will be times when our faith requires us to take a principled stand that may distance ourselves from others and bring us suffering – just look what happened to Jeremiah at the bottom of the well of Jesus on the cross. We have been baptised into the Lord’s passionate desire to make this world a better and more just place. We share in God’s passion to set things right.
Third, the prophet is a person of courage. Again, in looking for role models of courage, the second reading urges us to ‘think of the way Christ stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage’. What gave the Lord the courage to endure all he did and not to buckle even under torture was his moral courage in remaining true to himself, his Father and the truth of his message.
Fourth and lastly, today’s prophet is a member of the Church and is in communion with the Church. Being a faithful prophet on our own is very difficult or even impossible. We need the support of each other. Despite how this might be denied today, the world needs the prophetic voice of the Church as ships need a lighthouse because despite her own sinfulness and failings, we know and world knows deep down that we possess something divine, sacred truths that need to be defended and proclaimed in every time in history. The community of the Church bears Christ’s light that the world will always need to see and a truth that she needs to be reminded of in every time and place.
To be a person of prayer, a person of passion for the truth, a person of courage and a person of the Church – this is who we are and who we are called to be O fellow prophets of Christ. May the fire of the Holy Spirit descend upon us to give us the fire of courage to be prophets of Christ in the week ahead.