Sunday, January 31, 2016

Don't we need prophets?

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
January 31, 2016

Luke 4:21-30

"A great prophet has emerged among us." So they cried out in the villages of Galilee, surprised by Jesus' words and actions. However, that's not what happens in Nazareth when he appears before his neighbors as one anointed as Prophet of the poor.

Jesus observes first their admiration and then their rejection. He isn't surprised. He reminds them of a known refrain: "I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place." Then when they drive him out of town and try to kill him, Jesus abandons them. The narrator says that "he passed through the midst of them and went away." Nazareth remained without the Prophet Jesus.

Jesus is and acts as a prophet. He isn't a temple priest or a teacher of the law. His life is framed in the prophetic tradition of Israel. Unlike the kings and priests, the prophet isn't appointed or anointed by anyone. His authority comes from God, busy encouraging and guiding His beloved people with His Spirit when the political and religious leaders don't. It is no coincidence that Christians confess God incarnate in a prophet.

The features of the prophet are unmistakable. In the midst of an unjust society where the powerful seek their abundance while silencing the suffering of those who weep, the prophet dares to interpret and to live reality from God's compassion for the last and least. His whole life becomes an "alternative presence" criticizing injustice and calling for conversion and change.

On the other hand, when religion itself accommodates an unjust order of things and its interests no longer correspond to God's, the prophet shakes indifference and self-deception, criticizes the illusion of eternity and absoluteness that threatens every religion and reminds everyone that God alone saves. His presence introduces new hope as it invites us to think about the future based on freedom and God's love.

A Church that ignores the prophetic dimension of Jesus and his followers runs the risk of remaining without prophets. The shortage of priests worries us a lot and we pray for vocations to priestly service. Why don't we pray for God to raise up prophets? Don't we need them? Don't we feel the need to stir up the prophetic spirit in our communities?

A Church without prophets, doesn't it run the risk of being deaf to God's calls to conversion and change? A Christianity without prophetic spirit, isn't it in danger of being controlled by order, tradition, and fear of the newness of God?

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