“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
He has raised up a mighty savior for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
and has remembered his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
When reflecting on John the Baptist today, I was reminded of this familiar prayer that we, religious and priests, pray every morning. The prayer is called the Benedictus. The prayer is beautiful and the part that is in bold talks particularly about John the Baptist – his mission to be a prophet, getting before the Lord, the Messiah, to prepare and to give knowledge of salvation by proclaiming the forgiveness of sins.
One of the great things about John’s prophetic mission is that he was courageous enough to dare breaking away from the traditional ritual of repentance in the temple where people offered animal sacrifices in order to be remitted for their sins, to a non-traditional and simple ceremony of cleansing with water in the river of Jordan, the ceremony which I learnt was a ceremony only for gentiles and foreigners. One thing we keep in mind is that John came from a priestly family – his father, Zechariah, was serving as a priest in the temple when he encountered the angel who heralded John’s conception in Elizabeth’s womb.
Being prophetic is being a person of God, proclaiming the message of God in our words, deeds or self-expression. What God wants to communicate with us through prophets are not always things we want to hear but may well be things we need to know. And what we need to know can be challenging to accept and digest.
I invite you this weekend to reflect on prophetic voices around us and even inside our hearts so that we may become prophetic voices of God to those in need. Being prophetic is a service of a servant, not merely an honorable thing of a teacher or master.
Br Khoi msc