In this weekend's Gospel reading from Luke, we are told that Jesus happens on a funeral prosession. Luke says that,
As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother's only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, rise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen among us!" and "God has looked favorably on his people!"The Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz offers the Sermons That Work sermon for The Episcopal Church this week in which she writes in part,
The people who witnessed Jesus bring the young man to life said, “A great prophet has risen among us!” Another great compliment! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people could say that about us? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people would see us being a connection between God and them?The full text of her sermon is online here: June 10, 2007.
The thing is – they should. One of the many lessons we might learn from both these Scripture passages is that what Jesus and Elijah did, we must do also. We’ll probably not literally raise people from the dead, but we are called to be conduits of God’s grace, and we are called to be prophetic. Being prophetic doesn’t mean that we have to be dramatic. We are prophetic when we are aware of the needs in the world around us and we speak the truth about it. The power of prophesy is in the truth of the words and the challenge those words offer people to change for the better.
But we also know that prophets often get in trouble. The Old Testament is full of stories about prophets being reviled, ignored, harassed – and sometimes killed. John the Baptist lost his head. Jesus was crucified. Certainly we’re not supposed to be prophets like that are we?
The thing is – we are. Each one of us is called to speak God’s word of truth in a difficult world. Each one of us – not just the Dorothy Days or the Oscar Romeros, the prophets of our time – each one of us has our times to be prophetic. Different situations will affect us in different ways. Often, when we’re most prophetic, we so love what we’re doing that we don’t see ourselves as prophets.