Since the dawn of time, prophets have been mostly ordinary people. From Abraham to the present, the role of prophet has been in the hands of common folks who have struggled and sacrificed to spread the Gospel to all corners of the earth. God did not recruit the well-educated, the politically powerful or the religious professionals to spread his message, but relied on many ordinary women and men to establish faith communities focused on a lifestyle of simplicity and service. Today, this responsibility for prophetic leadership is a call to establish communities where the love of Jesus is evident.
The Second Vatican Council reminded us that everyone has a shared responsibility in the mission of the church. The Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, stated that: “the church is not truly established and does not fully live, nor is the church a perfect sign of Christ among the people, unless there exists a laity worthy of the name, for the Gospel cannot be deeply imprinted on the mentality, life and work of any people without the presence of active lay people.” Pope John Paul II affirmed the crucial responsibility we all have when he said, “through [our] lives and in the midst of [our] daily activities in the world, [we] show that faith has the power to transform the world and to renew humankind.” Recently, Pope Francis reaffirmed the role of the church in the world when he said: “The church’s aim is to confirm, renew and revitalize the novelty of the Gospel rooted in our history from a personal and communitarian encounter with Jesus who makes us disciples and missionaries.”
In today’s Gospel, the twelve continued the mission begun by Jesus. Fired by the Spirit, they became Christ’s ambassadors who set out on prophetic journeys. Dependent on God, and living a simple lifestyle, they went forward to preach, to heal, and to serve whomever they met. Each of us is commissioned to do the same. We too recall that our commission is not our own. We are sent by Jesus and equipped by him to serve others. Today, prophets are those who: “feed the hungry, care for the dispossessed, and are sensitive to the numerous little heartaches people suffer,” sharing Christ’s mission and sharing in the fire of the Spirit.
The prophetic call is an urgent and ongoing message for all. However, before anyone can become a prophet, he or she must be willing to admit that no matter how serious they are about practicing their faith, they must always leave enough space in their lives to adjust to the changes God wants them to make. That is why Mark’s Gospel went into detail about their clothing, their food, their living arrangements, and their behavior. They were not even to worry about success or failure. Their job was simply to proclaim the healing word of God and not be concerned about a safe, comfortable living for themselves. Today, if we fail to proclaim Jesus’ message, we can hope that some prophetic voice will convey God’s word to us, especially if we have found life too comfortable.
How aware are we of our call as prophets? How often do we notice the needs of others? Let us not forget the noble work to which we have been assigned. We are reminded that the apostles preached a Gospel of repentance that invited people to believe “in God’s alternative to the reality they saw around them.” Now is the time to renew our prophetic power and rekindle our efforts to transform the world.
----Deacon Wilson Shierk