In my experience, when people are asked that question, they normally respond by making some kind of reference to the predicting of future events, as if the primary mission of a prophet is to tell us what will happen next week or next year either in our personal lives or out there in the world.
Yes it’s true—they did often refer to future events, but this was always with respect to what was happening in the present moment: "God says this bad thing will happen because of what you are doing (or what you are not doing) NOW! So you need to change your lives for the better NOW!"
And so their message was almost always conditional. Everything depended on how people responded to the word of God that the prophet had spoken to them. If they responded positively, and changed their lives for the better, they would experience blessings; if they responded negatively, they would experience tragedy and disaster somewhere down the road.
In today's first reading, from the Old Testament Book of Numbers, 72 elders (including Eldad and Medad) speak prophetically. But this upsets Joshua; he doesn’t think that Eldad and Medad should be prophesying, since they weren't with the other 70 when the Spirit descended on them. At that point Moses utters the famous line, "Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!"
Moses thought that everyone had the potential to be a spokesperson for the Lord. And so, it wouldn’t surprise him in the least that prophetic activity has continued in the world from his time until our own.
The next time you're at a baptism ceremony, pay close attention to what the priest or deacon says to the child after he anoints him or her with sacred chrism. He says, "As Christ was anointed priest, prophet, and king, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life."
As some of you know, I was away from September 14th until the 23rd. I went to see a priest friend of mine, Fr. Chris Mahar, who's studying for a special degree in moral theology at the
And while I was there overseas, the two of us got to spend 4 days with a great woman who just happens to be a prophet for our time. Actually, she is a prophet for EVERY time and place--and for every era of human history.
You see, aside from going to Paris and to various places in Belgium, Fr. Chris and I also spent 4 days in Lourdes, France, where our Blessed Mother appeared to a young girl named Bernadette Soubirous in 1858. Thousands of people from all over the world are there every single day of the year; it’s the largest pilgrimage site in the world. Many of those who go, unfortunately, are sick and dying. They go seeking a miracle cure for their illnesses—and some, happily, get their wish. Many physical healings have taken place in
I’ve been blessed to travel to Rome and the Holy Land and many other sacred places, but if you asked me what my favorite religious shrine in the world is, I would tell you without hesitation: “Lourdes”—and I know many others who would echo my sentiments.
There’s something special about the place. There’s even a peaceful atmosphere in the religious goods stores and the restaurants and in other public areas of the town—and you don’t find that in most places, not even in
When I was there last week I said to the Lord in prayer, “Lord, why do I love this place so much—aside from the fact that it’s so peaceful here?” and the thought came to me (which I trust was from God): “You love this place, Fr. Ray, because there’s a great deal of misery here, and yet, very few people here are miserable.”
But they do not appear to be miserable! It really is amazing. Those who go to
What a contrast to places like our local casino! (This was another thought I had last week at the shrine.) In
Of course, what’s most important about
Her messages, incidentally, are always the same: she tells us to pray—to pray often; to pray from our hearts and not just with our lips; and of course she tells us to pray the Rosary among all our other daily prayers.
She always talks about faithfulness to Mass, and coming to Mass with the right attitude (which is not the “let’s-get-this-over-with-quickly-so-that-we-can-get-on-with-the-real-important-stuff” attitude that you find in many Catholics these days).
And she talks about engaging in acts of penance and charity, to make reparation for our own sins, for the sins of the world, and to draw down God’s grace into our own lives and into the lives of others.
Like every true prophet, Mary speaks to us in the present moment about the present moment. And like a good prophet—as well as a good mother—she warns us about what will happen if we don’t take her messages to heart (which are the same messages contained in the gospel of her Son).
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, that we will always take your prophetic and motherly messages seriously, realizing that you give them to us because you love us and because you want what’s best for us—here, and in eternity. Amen.