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(Part 54)


February 3, 2013

Today’s readings:
Jeremiah 1:4-19
Psalm 71:1-6,15-17
Luke 4:21-30

All Christians are to share in the three offices of Christ as prophet, king and priest (CCC #783). Today we look at the all-important call to the prophetic ministry, referencing Jeremiah and Jesus. We see what are often the obstacles to our taking on a prophetic role.

  • “I am too young!” (Jer 1:6c). We feel we have no experience and thus no proper qualifications.
  • “I do not know how to speak.” (Jer 1:6b). We feel inadequate. This is especially so when we realize that prophets speak on God’s behalf.
  • Fear. Speaking prophetically can be intimidating, no, not to the person being addressed, but to us who speak.
  • Criticism from the home front. Prophets look good in the eyes of outsiders (Lk 4:22a), but for people who know them intimately, what they see are the shortcomings, weaknesses, failings. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” (Lk 4:22b). A prophet can hear them mumbling, “Physician, cure yourself” (Lk 4:23a). As Jesus himself says, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” (Lk 4:24).
  • Antagonism from others. Those who are convicted by a prophet’s words can react negatively, even violently. With Jesus, the people “were all filled with fury.” (Lk 4:28). They even tried to kill him (Lk 4:29).

How should we respond to the call to be prophetic?

First, we realize that it is God who calls us, according to His eternal plan for us. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jer 1:5). God has the best plan for us. We are destined according to His will. If we allow ourselves to be used by God, then we will become His instruments. He will speak through us. “See, I place my words in your mouth!” (Jer 1:9b).

Second, as we realize that God calls us, we should respond in obedience. “To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak.” (Jer 1:7b).

Third, we should not be afraid. If God sends, then God equips, protects, provides, graces, anoints, blesses, empowers. “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).

Prophets are crucial in the life of the world today. There is much evil to be exposed and opposed, as “evil will pour out over all who dwell in the land.” (Jer 1:14). People need to be instructed and guided. False prophets and dissidents within the Church need to be confronted. If not, they will spread their errors, and God’s people will slowly but surely be sucked into a world of darkness and evil.

As God speaks through us and relies on us to deliver His message to people, we have a great responsibility. We must speak. We must stand up against opponents. We must rest on God’s assurance of His help and grace. “But you, prepare yourself; stand up and tell them all that I command you. Do not be terrified on account of them” (Jer 1:17a). God’s directive is uncompromising. Indeed, if it is God who calls us, if our response is critical to God accomplishing His purposes in the world, then we must do as He says. We must stand on His word to be with us and to fight for us. “They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:19).

So prophets of God, speak, and give honor and glory to God. “My mouth shall proclaim your just deeds, .... I will speak of the mighty works of the Lord; .... I proclaim your wondrous deeds.” (Ps 71:15-17).

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