A Prophet

“…they shall know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:5)

This is my unconventional definition of a prophet. A prophet is a person selected and anointed by God to be charged, imbued, possessed and transformed by his divine words to such a degree that it becomes impossible for his audience to continue to live their lives as if he had never confronted them with those words.

Without a single exception, God’s words are more than challenging; they all come with a warning: “Handle with extreme caution: these words are meant to generate Life but can cause death.” And here is the same warning in divine words: Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Do you see? God’s Word is “living” and “effective” like a live electric wire and, like electricity; it can do a lot of good or cause death—spiritual death. The Word is spoken to all of God’s children, to those who are wise and take it to heart as well as to those who have rebelled; are hard of face; and are obstinate of heart. (cf. Ezekiel 2:2-5)

On Judgment Day, no one could tell the Son of Man sitting on his throne that his Word had not been spoken to them, or that the Word was lost and/or watered down in the sea of zillions of words spoken in the cacophony of a world of instant information. And, perhaps, what needs to be reiterated is that the prophet Ezekiel and all other prophets, were forerunners, precursors of THE Prophet, Jesus Christ, the Word who was with God from the beginning and was God himself. (cf. John 1:1)

The lesson that, today, we are taught by the flat, halfhearted reaction of the citizens of Nazareth to Jesus’ preaching is that it is crucial for us to have always the response to God’s Word that he expects every time he addresses it to us. The lesson can be put in a nutshell: faced by God’s Word, we are strongly advised to toss aside any preconceived ideas, personal preferences, detailed plans and our cherished comfort zone, because God’s Word is unlike any human word, and it comes always with this warning: “handle with extreme caution: these words are meant to generate Life, but can cause death.”

Unfortunately, the mistake made by the people of Nazareth (cf. Mark 6:1-6) is repeated too often nowadays as well. It might be due to mental laziness which stems from giving to God’s Word the same superficial consideration given to any human verbiage and/or idle, casual talk; or it could be the result of being distracted by other pursuits in contrast with the divine message.

A firm notion which we must keep always in mind is that any time we, members of the Body of Christ, gather to do Eucharist or listen to God’s Word in other venues, as well as whenever we engage in any ordinary activity, we shall know that, not only a prophet has been among us, but that we are living with and in THE Prophet, Jesus Christ.

If we attended Holy Mass every Sunday and every holy day of obligation, I think that it is fair, pardon me, that it is vital to ask ourselves how many times we failed to know that Jesus, THE Prophet, has been addressing us directly, both individually and as a community! Not for a single moment could we claim that the words of Life spoken to us from the Table of the Word in the first part of the Holy Mass were meant for somebody else or that they were unimpressive and ordinary.

I will be 78 in less than three months. Recently, the Lord who spoke to me his words of life since the time of my first Holy Communion, caused me to dwell on an embarrassing and unsettling fact: the disparity in the reply I give to his Gospel. St. Maria Goretti became a saint at age 11. St. Domenico Savio at age 14; Blessed Carlo Acutis at age 15; St. Aloysius Gonzaga at age 23 and St. Thérèse of Lisieux at age 24.

Familiarity breeds contempt. In my case it is breeding partial stagnation and a delay in responding with a docile and generous heart to Jesus’ challenges in the Word spoken to me with so much expectation. I urge every single one of you to do the same. And in a hurry.

We shall consider how many times the Word of God addressed to us, at least once a week, left us unchanged, not because it was not packed with light, guidance, power and love but because we treated it like the zillions of empty words spoken by a Life-deprived world.

May Jesus, who is addressing us once more right now, stir in our minds the awareness that his words alone offer Life. And may he touch our hearts so deeply, so painfully that, with the help of the Holy Spirit we act in haste, resolve and unfailing perseverance to the fact that THE Prophet is among us with the intention of placing us firmly on the path to holiness. 

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