Heeding Prophets, Being Prophets
BY TIM SEVERYN | July 9, 2018
“He’s 14-years-old – what could he teach me?”
“Her politics are abysmal – I’m not going to listen to her.”
“He can’t write well – how much insight could he have?”
Like the locals from Jesus’ hometown, we so easily declare, “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mark 6:3) In our readiness to deny and dismiss, we miss countless opportunities for growth, opportunities to see and know God in the everyday prophets among us.
If I had listened to the 14-year-old as we gardened, I might have learned about building community through shared work.
If I had heard the witness of my neighbor, I might have found common ground for common action instead of retreating into my echo chamber.
If I had read my student’s words with care, I might have grown from his witness to human dignity and call for immigration reform.
This week, let us pray for the courage to see and to heed the prophets in our midst.
“But I don’t want to stir the pot too much.”
“I’m not an expert – what if I don’t know how to respond?”
“I’m afraid of being too bold, too loud.”
Like the Prophet Ezekiel, we resist our own call towards everyday prophethood. We are afraid of what it means to speak truth to power, and so build up ego-walls that prevent us from coming to see and believe, as St. Paul did, that, “My grace is sufficient for you …when I am weak, I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12: 8-10)
This week, let us pray for the courage to be weak. Let us pray for the strength to participate in the fundamental paradox of Christianity – that by being made vulnerable, that is, by opening ourselves to discomfort and embracing our utter dependence on God, we become fully alive, completely filled with God’s grace, strong. Like those who have come before us, let us shed our egos and join the cloud of witnesses struggling for justice, so that at the end of the day, “whether they heed or resist…they shall know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:5).
Let us heed the prophets in our midst, and let us become them.
Tim Severyn is a licensed social worker serving as the Director of Social Mission for Bellarmine Chapel, the Jesuit parish on the campus of Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He teaches as Adjunct Faculty for the Social Work and Theology Departments. He has masters degrees in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis and in Religion, Ethics, and Politics from Harvard Divinity School.
I read the most civil exchange of comments on Facebook this weekend in response to a post on health care and the proposed, upcoming changes. Of course, opinions varied, but people commented, praising the civility (and noted lack of ad-hominems, and bad language.) It was refreshing. I have hope.
To be a prophet ? It takes courage to answer a call.