There is a sense of joy that flows through our veins when we listen to the Prophets. While it’s true that prophetic words may be fearsome as well as celebratory, they offer a special kind of pilgrimage and destination.
As the people of their own time experiences, the Prophets were a fearsome band. And today, their scorching words, spoken at God’s behest, can still sear our comfort zones, while slicing and dicing the complacency in Faith that people so often display in our own times.
Whether from priestly casts or ordinary circumstances, the Prophets of the Lord held on to faith in the Living God, making time for prayer and worship in a savage and largely pagan world. They strove to educate God’s people, keeping them on the straight and narrow. But to do so, they had to carve out time to listen to and honor the Lord God and His plan for those He created.
The patriarch Moses taught emphatically that none of God’s people could dabble in fortune-telling, soothsaying; nor look to be a diviner, or caster of spells, consulting with ghosts or spirits nor oracles. For such would always be “an abomination to the Lord” and the slippery slope into the terrible darkness of sin – as did the pagan world around them (Dt. 18: 1-22).
So clearly, the word ‘prophet’ today has a different flare from the biblical name.
For the real Prophet is ever available to the will and teaching of God. And as we hear the Prophets in the holy liturgies of Lent and Easter time, we find their message fits us as well as our ancient family of faith. For like the pagans who dwelt all around God’s people, we too can slip easily into sin and not even be aware that we may be moving slowly but surely away from God.
So in the holy days of Lent make time to listen and review our own relationship with God and look for the Prophets. Listen as if your eternal life depended on it – as Moses might put it. Let those Words settle into the walls and doorways of your heart. As they always said: Hear the Word of the Lord.
Father Robert, OFM is Provincial of the Province of the Immaculate Conception, 147 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012 and director of Franciscan Mission Associates. www.franciscanmissionassoc.org