The life of a prophet is dangerous. God’s unique function for prophets is to awaken us from our self-centered slumber, from the pride and avarice of our modern neoliberal society, to make each of us fully aware of our life’s tasks and purposes: To initiate a mystical process of reordering through an understanding of his divine mercy and through the responsive acts of penance and conversion; and to accomplish through the well-learned virtues of charity, service and mutual responsibility, the ultimate “order” he desires, a kingdom of justice and peace.
John the Baptist symbolizes for us the prophetic function of constantly calling us to a path from repentance to renewal, while Jesus of Nazareth symbolizes for us the prophetic function of constantly calling us to a path from renewal to selfless service for the kingdom. We are always forewarned not to let their prophetic words go unheeded, for the kingdom will come at an hour only God knows, to replace the decaying world order. Thus, we should act with haste and never remain idle; lest we are caught unprepared, inevitably resulting in the loss of everything we hold dear.
And it is upon the dramatic sacrifice of this historical Nazarene, that we believe in the spiritual redemption of all humanity for all time, that this path from repentance to renewal to selfless service takes on a divine nature; that as followers of the Christ, our compassionate actions are ultimately, divine means towards a divine goal.
So, that is why a prophet’s life is dangerous, because to awaken necessitates disturbance. A prophet must disturb and shake our lives of pleasurable self-centeredness and indifference, ever critical of its lack of meaning and purpose. When one speaks as such from the very depths of her heart, to boldly proclaim what one firmly believes to be coming only from the Spirit of selfless compassion, then a prophet is always at the risk of being rejected and condemned by the very people she seeks to serve and change for the better.
A prophet is always the messenger of a just God, who seeks and is prepared to die for the correction of disorder.
But a prophet’s life is never futile, because in every prophetic awakening, there is always a consolation. A prophet’s words though disturbing, also reminds us of a God who loves us and cares for us; a God who is ever prepared to comfort us in our sorrows and misfortunes; and a God who is determined that no one perishes in an eternal death.
A prophet is always an image of the God who deserves to be loved in return, who seeks and is prepared to live forever with him, in the perpetual order of heaven.
If in this season of Advent, we are aiming to learn how to love this loving God, then let us listen to the prophets of our time. Let us pay more attention to those “voices in the wilderness,” who are not deliverers of news of impending destruction and despair as they are often mistakenly imagined to be, but rather courageous heralds of messages of blessings to come, and of the promised graces of joy and hope.
Brother Jess Matias is a professed brother of the Secular Franciscan Order. He serves as minister of the St. Pio of Pietrelcina Fraternity at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Mandaluyong City, coordinator of the Padre Pio Prayer Groups of the Capuchins in the Philippines and prison counselor and catechist for the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
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