Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Something to say
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the Sept. 15, 2011 edition of the Inland Register)
There’s been a greater than usual bottleneck of traffic at a key intersection in my neighborhood this summer. “Closed for repairs” multiple signs read; another broadcasts the target date for the end of the inconvenience. It tries one’s patience to wait there for three light changes!
While taking my turn I noticed a bumper sticker which I had not seen for some time. “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” the weathered patch of blue and red announced. The sticker dated itself in its gender insensitivity but the point is well made.
With a slight change in wording, I find this particular bumper sticker to be an appropriate appeal for the exercise of the Christian ministry of prophecy. “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to say nothing.” The point is just as well made. Unfortunately, too few of us are mindful on a regular basis of our call to be prophets, the very call affirmed in us at the time of our baptism. Maybe we even balk at the idea of being labeled a prophet. Our reluctance may come from a distorted notion of who a prophet is and what a prophet does.
For a good number of people – and certainly for the secular-minded – the prophet is someone like the late Jean Dixon or the ancient Nostradamus; that is, one who, with special clairvoyance, makes predictions about future events. “Crystal-ball gazers” we often call them. For the more religiously minded, the notion of prophet may conjure up images of firey-eyed people who screech threats at people on street corners and in public squares. Their ranting and raving certainly makes people feel uncomfortable (or entertained).
For still others, thanks to the medium of television, the prophet is equated with one who flips through Scripture passages with stunning ease, exposing the why and wherefore of some international event. Unless their beginning points are well examined, these Biblical prophets can scare the uninformed with their feigned “logical” use of proof texts. Of course, literally anything can be proved by stringing together enough Scripture quotes.
In our faith tradition, prophets are not those who stare into crystal globes to reveal a hidden future. Nor necessarily are they individuals who yell, scream and dress eccentrically. And certainly for us the prophet is not one who finds a Scriptural proof text for each and every human event. Like the prophets of old, the Christian prophet is one who forth-tells the Word of God. The prophet looks like ... well, like any one of us, because each and every one of us in baptism shares in the ministry of The Prophet, who is Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God enfleshed in human history. In union with him, the Christian is one who speaks forth the good word of God.
Once we get over the notion that the prophet is the exceptionally gifted person or the local fruitcake, we can understand that the call to prophesy is experienced in our ordinary life-setting. I think of the parent who lovingly and firmly challenges addictive behavior in a son or daughter. I think of the business man or woman who courageously defends the dignity of human life in a world which so often trivializes and markets the life of the unborn, the convicted, or the elderly. I think of the responsible citizen who takes the time to voice a Christian opinion to senators and representatives on important social issues such as abortion and health care reform.
The ministry of prophecy at times does take place in a public forum and with some measure of attention. More frequently than not, however, the exercise of this ministry occurs in the home, the neighborhood and the marketplace. In all of these instances where evil needs to be confronted, our call to prophesy should be heard. God’s word of wholeness and life has been entrusted by Christ to share with a searching and sometimes broken world. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men and women – like us – to say nothing.
You and I are the prophet. If we do not lovingly and courageously speak forth the word of God, then who will? Say something!
(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish, Spokane, and Moderator of the Curia and director of Deacon Formation for the Spokane Diocese.)
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