Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Deprived of prophetic spirit

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
February 3, 2013

Luke 4:21-30

We know that historically the opposition to Jesus was slowly growing -- the reluctance of the scribes, the irritation of the teachers of the law and the rejection of the church leaders grew until it ended in his execution on the cross.

Luke the evangelist knows it too. But intentionally forcing even his own account, he speaks of the direct rejection of Jesus in the first public performance he describes. From the beginning the readers have to be aware that rejection is the first reaction Jesus finds among his own when he presents himself as prophet.

What happened in Nazareth isn't an isolated incident, something that happened in the past. The rejection of Jesus when he presents himself as prophet of the poor, liberator of the oppressed, and forgiver of sinners, would go on reproducing itself among his own throughout the centuries.

We followers of Jesus have difficulty accepting his prophetic dimension. We almost completely forget something important. God did not become incarnate in a priest, consecrated to tend the temple religion. Nor in a learned person busy defending the order established by the law. He became incarnate and revealed in a prophet sent by the Spirit to proclaim Good News to the poor and freedom to the oppressed.

We forget that Christianity isn't just another religion, born to give the followers of Jesus beliefs, rites and precepts suited to living out their relationship with God. It's a prophetic religion, impelled by the Prophet Jesus to promote a more humane world, oriented towards its ultimate salvation in God.

We Christians run the risk of neglecting again and again the prophetic dimension that should animate us followers of Jesus. Despite major prophetic events that have been taking place in Christian history, what the renowned theologian H. von Balthasar states remains true: In the late second century, "a frost fell on the (prophetic) spirit of the Church that hasn't come off at all."

Today, once again, concerned about restoring what is "religious" in the face of modern secularism, we Christians are in danger of going into the future deprived of prophetic spirit. If so, what happened to the residents of Nazareth could happen to us -- Jesus will pass through our midst and "go away" to continue his journey. Nothing will prevent him from continuing his liberating work. Others, coming from outside, will recognize his prophetic power and welcome his saving action.

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