If I suggested to you all those who have been baptised are called to be prophets, what would your reaction be? If your understanding of the word prophet refers only to those who have psychic powers, then my suggestion might sound ludicrous. However, in terms of our Catholic faith, the word prophet has a more nuanced meaning that we should consider.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says we act prophetically when we proclaim Christ by word and the testimony of our lives (#905). The extent to which we can act prophetically depends on many things. For those just starting their journey into the Catholic faith and in their relationship with Jesus, sharing about something new to them might be a little challenging. However, for those further along the journey, a sure sign of a maturing faith is the ability to be a prophet to all Jesus asks of us.
So, what does acting like a prophet entail? First, and to be clear, the baptised are not called to proselytise about the faith. In colloquial terms, we are not to force our faith down the throats of everyone we meet.
We are, however, called to pray and reflect on the Scriptures – here we would do well to lean into the Gospels, where we learn about the way Jesus calls us to live life – and to be nourished by the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist (the Mass). By doing this, we are strengthened to be witnesses – or prophets – to Christ. Importantly, by participating in the life of our faith, we should be encouraged, and even compelled, to speak the truth into the various situations we find ourselves.
As we enter the Advent and Christmas season, it is a time when we are more likely to be socially interacting with work colleagues, friends and family. Over drinks and meals, there will be opportunities for friendly banter and maybe some even longer conversations. The challenge I offer you – and myself – is to be attentive to what is being said in these conversations.
Being a prophet means you might choose to not just go with the flow and give an affirming nod to things you know in your heart go against the values of the Catholic faith. Being a prophet means you might offer some gentle words or advice that are more in keeping with what Jesus asks of us. To be a prophet means you will reflect on your own actions. Is your behaviour in line with what Jesus asks? This is what we mean by acting prophetically by the “testimony of our lives”.
So, here lies the challenge: Are you prepared to be a prophet this Christmas?
Words: Sharon Brewer