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September 27th, 2015 - The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 27th, 2015 - The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

"Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets!"  - Numbers 11:29

When most people think of a prophet they envision a shrouded figure peering mysteriously into a crystal ball, but the real prophets in the Biblical tradition were not fortune-tellers. The word "prophet" comes from the Greek pro-phanai, which means "to speak for someone or in the name of someone." The prophets were God's messengers and mouthpieces for communicating His will to the Israelite people.

They were heralds of the Truth, which often got them into trouble, because they made people uncomfortable. Whenever the Israelites strayed from their covenant relationship with the Lord, the prophets would rise up and challenge them to change their ways, so as to avoid the inevitable destruction that would result if they did not. The prophets knew that their society would crumble if it continued to neglect the poor, treat outsiders unjustly, and disregard the sanctity of marriage. 

After the Israelite kingdoms did indeed collapse, leaving the people in exile, the prophets arrived with a message of hope. They assured the people that God was faithful, and that He would send the Messiah - the Anointed One - to redeem them. 

Jesus was the One of whom the prophets spoke, and His own mission was prophetic in nature. He famously made the words of the prophet Isaiah his own as He proclaimed them in the Nazareth synagogue: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord" (Luke 4: 18-19). 

Yet, Jesus is more than just a messenger of God; He is God Himself, the Word Made Flesh. His prophetic role is one of the three offices that he exercises, the others being Priest and King. 

Through baptism we are united with Christ and receive the great gift and responsibility of sharing in these three offices. We are called to be priestly by offering our lives as a living sacrifice of love to God. We are called to be kingly stewards of all the gifts of creation and the creatures whom God has placed within our care. We are called to be prophets who proclaim the Truth, who stand up for the oppressed, and who give witness to the joyful hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

But, it is not easy to be a prophet. Jesus said that people will hate you, exclude you, insult you, and "denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man‚ For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way." However, He also tells us to rejoice if that happens, because "your reward will be great in heaven" (Luke 6:22-23). 

Besides, if you are afraid of being a prophet, you are not alone. Many of the Old Testament prophets felt inadequate or unworthy of being God's messenger. Moses worried about his speech impediment (Exodus 4:10). Isaiah doubted his purity (Isaiah 6:5), and Jeremiah felt that he was too young (Jeremiah 1:6). 

So, do not be afraid to be the prophet you were made to be. Speak the Truth, stand up for the poor, and proclaim the Good News that salvation comes from the Lord!

Almighty Father, fill our hearts with wisdom and courage so that we might be your prophetic voices of peace and justice in our communities and around the world. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord, amen.