FAITH IN FOCUS: PROPHECY ON BRICK STREET?
No one wants to think of Mrs Blatherthorpe at 37 Brick Street as a prophet. That’s because she’s just ordinary, like everyone else on Brick St. We expect prophets to be a bit more spectacular, perhaps with long straggly hair, a wooden staff and a book of blessings and curses. But it’s not to be.
Prophets are not fortune-tellers. They are spokespeople. Rather than predict the future, they tell us what God wants us to know about the present. In the bible the only predicting they ever did was about the birth of the Messiah. Usually they were in the thick of it announcing the mind of God and denouncing corrupt practices.
And contrary to popular opinion, they did not die out in biblical times. They are alive and well and living somewhere close to you today. For prophecy is what God demands of all Christians (speaking up for their faith) and it is a gift that is given in special measure to certain chosen individuals.
The word prophet comes from two Greek words that mean to speak on behalf of. So a prophet speaks on behalf of God. And prophets are found in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Besides Mrs Blatherthorpe at number 37 there are countless politicians, religious leaders, sports men and women, teachers, parents, celebrities and entertainers whose words strike us as God-centred when they speak up publicly about issues that affect our society. But what today’s gospel shows us is that the people on Brick St will never accept Mrs Blatherthorpe because a prophet is rarely accepted in his or her own territory.
To be keyed-in to prophecy means keeping an ear out for those people who are unafraid of bringing God’s word to bear in situations of injustice and exploitation and whose actions support the poor, the vulnerable and the needy. It also means being faithful to our baptismal promise to be prophets ourselves by the way we live our lives and are prepared in big ways and small to stand up for what is right and what comes from God. Like Mrs Blatherthorpe at number 37.