In Star Wars, there are teams: the Empire, and the Rebels. This is very appropriate for us to consider as the Lord speaks of the rebels today: Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.
What is a prophet? Your first answer to me might be: Father, who cares? I am not a great theologian, just a Christian trying to live in the everyday world. It’s not a stupid question. Our young people ask us these questions. And it is very important that we take time to listen and answer them. Because Christianity answers the most fundamental and noble desires of our heart.
So why is it important to understand what a prophet is? What do you think? It’s because you are prophets. Every person who has been baptised has been baptised into a prophet: this is part of baptism. Baptised into Christ, we are other Christs in the world, his hands and mouths and feet, and so like him and in him, we are priest, prophet and king of the kingdom of God, already in this world.
So what then is a prophet? More importantly, how can we tell true prophets from fake ones? Today the Lord reminds us of a few key points:
First of all, that a prophet is someone who speaks for God. Prophets are not about themselves: they do not preach their opinions or their own knowledge. If they were to do this, they would not be prophets – they would be journalists. The very meaning of the word prophet means this – from the Greek word prophetes – one who speaks for another.
Secondly, prophets are not people who simply speak with their mouth: the only way for their mouth to be consecrated to God is if they themselves are totally consecrated to God. Prophets are not about themselves – they are about another, their whole life is about another: the Holy Trinity. This is important because this is their whole appeal: because they are about God, then through them we can see God and his goodness and his message to us. This is also their strength: their strength is not about their popularity or cleverness. Their only strength is their unity with God. This is why prophets are immensely powerful and unstoppable: because their strength is supernatural, and the supernatural can only be stopped by the supernatural – and even in the supernatural, all is nothing compared to God.
Thirdly then, since they are not about themselves, but about someone else, then they are figures of love. Because this is what love is: love is not about what I can get to feel. True love is how I can be about the other, how I can give myself for the other. It is also what God is: God is not about himself – all his works are characterised by the gift of himself. True prophets then are characterised by love.
But Christians are these prophets today: how can we be faithful to who we are?
- To know what God says: this is the point of the teachings of Jesus – that we know and can explain why he teaches what he does. This is the importance of daily prayer, where I spend time being formed and changed by the Holy Spirit.
- Secondly, to not be hypocrites, but to choose each day to not worry about my weakness or sufferings, but rather strive to rely on the Holy Spirit for today.
- Above all, to be known as people of great, real love who live for others.