Saturday, July 7, 2012

Prophets among us.

Jesus preaching in the synagogue
   When we hear the word "prophet" we tend to think of someone who has the ability to foretell the future. In the news we are regularly bombarded with "prophecies" about the end of the world.  This understanding entirely misses the point of what prophecy really is. The word prophet comes from the Greek for spokesperson, one who speaks for another. The religious meaning is one who speaks for God.  Often in speaking for God future consequences are announced regarding what will happen if the message is not received.  Prophets also announce hope, good things to come in the future.

   In the Gospel text from Mark  (Mk: 6, 1-6) for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary time Jesus is preaching in the synagogue at Nazareth, his hometown and is rejected. He is speaking a truth that they don't want to hear.  Likewise isn't He just a carpenter's son. what could he possibly have to say?  Jesus points out "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." (Mk 6:4). Even He, the Son of God, was not able to perform miracles there because of their lack of faith.

   What are we to learn from this?  About a year ago I saw the movie, The Help. It was based on a novel by the same name and told the story of  African American maids in Mississippi in the 1960's. A young woman from the town in which the story takes place becomes a writer and tells the story of the mistreatment of these maids.   She is rejected, even in in her own family.  She was a prophet. She told the uncomfortable truth that they didn't want to hear.

   There is something in human nature that causes us to become blind to evil in our midst.  We get comfortable and fail to see what is wrong.  This happens in every country and town, in every political party and in the Church as well. It happens in families too. Who are the prophets among us, our own kind, who will name the wrongs that we fail to see?  Who of us will accept the call we have through Baptism and Confirmation to be prophets?  Do we reject our prophets because after all "They're just ordinary folks who have no business speaking out?


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