A couple of weeks ago many of us learned from TV that three reporters from Hong Kong were beaten by the police officers in China when these reporters were covering the news of the turmoil in the Xingjiang Province. A few days after these reporters had been beaten, we saw a spokeswoman of the local government speaking to justify the action taken by the police officers. Note that it is not her function to deliver her own personal opinion about this incident. Although we can not agree with what she said, what she said was the official position of the local government.
This is exactly what a prophet is. A prophet is a spokesman. A prophet in the Old Testament spoke on behalf of God and he spoke with God’s authority. In other words: “This, and nothing else, is the official position of God!”
The Toronto Catholic District School Board has a ‘Virtue of the Month’ every month to remind the students of their Catholic identity. In this month, September 2009, all students in the school board are reminded that “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.”( Matthew 25:40 ) This is also the yardstick one day Jesus will use to judge each and every one of us. As His followers, we are sent to serve the Lord who is hidden in everyone. We are to tell the world the ‘official position’ of the Lord.
The twelve apostles were also prophets. They were sent by Jesus to preach, to expel evil spirits, and to cure, they were sent by Jesus as His prophets. “Jesus called the twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases. Then he sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick, after saying to them, ‘Take nothing with you for the journey: no stick, no beggar’s bag, no food, no money, not even an extra shirt. Wherever you are welcomed, stay in the same house until you leave that town; wherever people don’t welcome you, leave that town and shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them.’ ” (Luke 9:1 – 5)
For two thousand years, the Catholic Church has been taking a prophet’s role. She has been preaching to people of all nations in every corner of the world. The Church has been sent by the greatest prophet of all time. The Church was sent by Jesus, who not only spoke the word of God. He is the Word of God.
When the priest poured the water of Baptism on our forehead, the Father said, “You are my own dear son/daughter. I am pleased with you.” (Mark 1:11) Jesus said, “You, too, go and be my prophet!” The Holy Spirit started to accompany us and help us fulfil our prophetic role properly until we drive Him out with the sins we commit. To be baptized is to receive a mission to be God’s prophet.
“But I’m just a layperson. I don’t have the knowledge. I haven’t been trained to teach catechism,” many will say. Nevertheless, the Second Vatican Council tells us that all people who have been baptized are God’s prophets.
But what are we to tell the world? Basically, we tell the world about our faith, and we testify what we tell the world with our actions. We, as God’s prophets, have a mission to create a harmonious universal community with peace and love. It should be a community with no barriers of race, colour, culture, or politics, with Christ as the head of this community.
If you are a married person, then you can be God’s loyal prophet and, with your actions, testify what God spoke about marriage and what the Church has been teaching for two thousand years about marriage. Be faithful to your spouse, keep the promise you made to God on your wedding day. Do not abandon your spouse for another man or woman, or for your own social life. Take care of him or her all the way through his or her helpless old age.
It is not easy at all to be God’s loyal prophets because there are many false prophets today, especially in the media: the movies, television, music, popular magazines. They want us to believe the unchristian ways of life are the norm in this world today. In fact, Christ forewarned His apostles that they would be rejected. “Wherever people don’t welcome you, leave that town and shake the dust off your feet as a warning to them.” ( Luke 9:5 )
Although there are numerous challenges on the road that every prophet takes, our prophecy should contain no compromise. In Baptism, we promise, or through our godparents, to the priest that we will be loyal to Jesus, and to the Church and her teachings. We become God’s spokespersons. We should be men and women of principle. As God’s faithful spokespersons, we should not betray the ‘official position’ of the Scripture and the Church. The late Pope John XXIII said, “It is not just the person who deliberately distorts the truth who is guilty. A man is just as guilty if he betrays it by adopting an equivocal attitude out of fear that some people will not consider him up-to-date and well-rounded.”
Keep in mind that no one is insignificant in God’s mind. Everyone can be God’s good spokesperson if we accept God’s plan for us cheerfully, even if that means we live in pain, physically or emotionally.
After the last prayer of each Eucharist, the priest says, “The Mass is ended.” No, the mass is not really ended because that is the moment we are sent to assume our prophetic role. As the twelve apostles were sent by Jesus to preach, to expel the evil spirits and to heal, likewise we are sent to expel the evil spirits of occultism, of immoral thoughts and actions; to heal this world which has been contaminated by the devil; to preach, with our words and actions, so as to bring all people back to His fold. We are sent to serve the Lord who is hidden in everyone. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, you do unto me.” ( Matthew 25:40 ) The Mass is not ended, it has just begun!