Calling all prophets

What does it mean to be a prophet? “Oxford Dictionary” defines a prophet as, “A person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the Will of God.” In this Sunday’s readings, we hear of how the Spirit led those It fell upon to prophesy. When others complained that they were not following “the rules,” they were reminded that, “if they are not against us, they are for us.” Jesus and Moses knew that the mere mention of God would provoke thoughts and musings, generating a curiosity that would lead individuals to seek a deeper relationship with God. 

About a week ago, while driving in Fairhaven with my daughter and grandsons, we spotted Jesus as we approached an intersection. This man’s appearance left no doubt in our minds as to who he was portraying. As he continued to walk along the road, and into busy parking lots, you could not help but look for him. Of course as he walked amongst us, you could hear people whispering and wondering if they needed to worry about his mental state or their own safety. 

The beauty of that day for my daughter and me was how the boys reacted (ages five and three); they, like the people of Jesus’ time, wanted us to find Him. When we couldn’t see Him, they would ask why we couldn’t find Jesus and where had he gone. Did he go back to Heaven? They did not look at this man with malice or contempt, but with a wide-eyed innocence of someone meeting a person, Whom they had heard so much about, for the very first time. They were so amazed by the fact that they had seen Jesus, that as we left the location where Jesus had been, my five-year-old grandson asked us, “Since we have found Jesus, do we need to go to church tomorrow?” I thought how adorable, but yet I wondered why so many of us have stopped looking for Jesus and that just maybe this little boy was on to something here. 

For some this man represented a nuisance, someone to be rid of, for those two little boys, they saw the incarnation of what they are taught to believe. That Jesus is always with us, taking care of us, walking beside us and is very real and very much alive. This man regardless of his state of mind, made everyone who saw him that day stop, and think of God, Jesus and the workings of the Spirit. He brought to life Jesus, and any photos that were taken of him and shared on social media, were captioned with the words, “I found Jesus!” By his actions, he was and is a modern day prophet, by walking around dressed as Christ, he created a stir and brought the name of Jesus to so many lips; lips that may have not spoken His name in a while or at all.

At Baptism we are called to be prophets, to spread the message of Salvation far and wide. There are many modern day prophets, individuals who by their actions and deeds remind us that God is very present in our lives. Pope Francis not only imparts wisdom, but demonstrates the love of God by his actions; reminding us that we need to “Get out in the real world to find Jesus,” and “people need to learn these three languages — of the mind, heart and action” (Glatz; CNS, 9/23/2013). By traveling this vast world, he is evangelizing to all peoples regardless of race or creed, etc. Mother Teresa and so many like her, who brought the words of the Gospel to life with her deeds and actions, offer simplistic messages of love. 

In this modern world, as so many of Moses’ and Jesus’ time, we fear being ridiculed or shunned for our beliefs, but yet the mission is quite simple really. Looking at Pope Francis, Mother Teresa, and others, they chose and choose to spread the Good News by showing love. St. Therese of Lisieux once said, “There is but one thing for us to do in the night of this life and that is to love, to love Jesus with all the energy of our heart and to save souls so that He may be loved by them. O, let us cause Jesus to be loved by men!” That is the Spirit that led Eldad and Medad to begin prophesying, and what Jesus was trying to explain in the Gospel, that anyone who speaks His name, does so out of love for Him and all that God represents in their lives. 

We do not have to walk around dressed like Jesus to spread the Good News, yet we do have to “put on Christ” so that others may see and experience the love that Jesus has for us. The love that He preached and taught about, reaching out to the outcast, curing the sick and opening His arms to all who believed in Him. Are you willing to be Christ to others? Will we allow the Spirit to move within us, guiding our words, deed and actions, causing others to fall in love with Jesus, and to the relationship He wants for us to have with God, our Father. Jesus is out there, we just need to know where to look. He needs us prophets to help others find Him as well.

Anchor columnist Rose Mary Saraiva lives in Fall River and is a parishioner of St. Michael’s Parish, and she is the Events Coordinator and Bereavement Ministry for the diocesan Office of Faith Formation. She is married with three children and two grandchildren.

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