What does a prophet do? He teaches people God’s plan for them, how they are to live a life that befits and becomes their human dignity.
He teaches God’s plan, not his or her own plan, and certainly not the politically correct plan of the dominant culture.
When people deviate from God’s plan, when they become engrossed in the mood and trends of the times, as dictated by the shapers of public opinion, the prophet points this out to them, and calls them back to God’s plan.
The prophet knows that the path that leads to greater life and true happiness is difficult and requires discipline. He knows that the path that leads to destruction and death is very glamorous, pleasurable, and seductive. If sin were not pleasurable, who would sin?
The world, the flesh and the devil have immediate gratification working for them. It is easy to simply float in the stream of comfort and convenience. But these, like credit cards, come at a great expense. The prophet tries to wake people up to what they are doing; they break through their stupor, their fantasy world.
The prophets almost always encountered opposition. God told Ezekiel: “I send you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels, who have rebelled against me” (Ez 2:2).
St. Paul met with insults, hardship, persecutions, calamities, beatings, and imprisonment. But Jesus assured him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).
And Jesus, God himself, was rejected by his townspeople. They thought they knew Him, and pegged Him as a simple carpenter in a small town. They refused to look at His great works and His obvious closeness to God. Jesus could not change their incredulity, so He went elsewhere to perform His ministry (Mk 6:5).
The Church has a prophetic role to perform; she has a duty to give prophetic witness to social and political problems. She points to real abuses, explaining how things ought to be, and where deviations go wrong.
In 2002 the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life released their document Starting Afresh from Christ. They wrote: “Consecrated persons are called by the Spirit to a continual conversion to give new vigor to the prophetic dimension of their vocation. They who, in fact, are ‘called to place their very existence at the service of the cause of the kingdom of God, leaving everything behind and closely imitating the form of life of Jesus Christ, assume a most important teaching role for the whole People of God.’
“The Holy Father made this expectation clear. The Church – he writes – ‘counts on the continual dedication of this chosen host of her sons and daughters, on their yearning for holiness, and upon the enthusiasm of their service to foster and sustain every Christian’s striving for perfection and to enhance the common welcoming of neighbor, especially those most in need. In this way, witness is given to the love of Christ among all people.’”
We pray that the good Lord will send prophets to His Church today, that the Church may have a clear prophetic voice, so that the ways and plan of God may be easily known by all who seek them.