My dear Sisters and Brothers! What that woman experienced was profoundly Christian. I mean not only the peace, solace and joy she found but predominantly the desire to share it with others. Her religious experience reflects that of prophet Jeremiah who heard from God: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you.’ How many of us long to hear it from God, to have deep down in our soul the conviction that God speaks these words to us as well. God does speak these words to us but to hear them we need to be open to hear them in their entirety: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you. I have appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’
Jewish people had imbedded in their religiosity that God wouldn’t cease to send them prophets. When Jesus came he inaugurated a new era of prophets. The anointing to be prophets we, Christians, receive at our Baptism. After the water of Baptism was poured upon you the priest took the oil of Sacred Chrism and while anointing your head he said: ‘God now anoints you with the Chrism of Salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so you may always live as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.’ It doesn’t mean that we can predict future. It is not the role of a prophet. A prophet is the one who lives closely to God, reflects on God’s holy words, observes attentively what is happening in the community in which she or he lives and offers it a prophetic insight. This is how Jesus preached in the synagogue in his home town of Nazareth. The Gospel for this Sunday reveals to us that people ‘were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.’ It wasn’t sweet talking but prophetic talking, the talking which explains the reality in light of God’s word.
Our society doesn’t appear resembling that of the Jewish community at the time of Jesus which longed for prophets. Our society doesn’t seem to be longing for prophets, at least prophets of God. The situation which happened prior to the Second Persian Gulf War captures something of our society. Saint Pope John Paul II already during the First Persian Gulf War in 1991 cried out: ‘War never again! No, never again war, because it destroys the lives of innocent people, throws into upheaval the lives of those who do the killing, and always leaves behind a trail of hatred and resentment that make it all the more difficult to resolve the very problems that provoke the conflict, the war.’ In 2003 when President Bush was preparing to launch the Second Persian Gulf War the Pope said: ‘This is not an accord with God’s ways.’ He sent a cardinal with his personal letter to the President. The President received the cardinal but never opened the letter. In what looked like his failure St John Paul II resembled our Blessed Lord who faced rejection in his home town even if at the beginning people found his words gracious.
When we take our religious experience out of our comfortable private room we may meet ridicule or rejection. It may hurt us deeply as faith in God is very personal, as it makes us who we are. This is the cross we are called to take up as we follow the Lord Jesus. We are called to be prophets of the Twenty-first century, the new prophets who believe not only for our own good but for the good of others and thus for God’s glory.