Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
All of us are Prophets!
Moses says to Joshua in the book of Numbers: "Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all" (v. 29). The vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and the world is essentially a prophetic one. The apostolic exhortation of Pope St. Paul II, Christifideles Laici (Christ's Faithful Laity), is very instructive here. We read in the exhortation that it "intends to stir and promote a deeper awareness among all the faithful of the gift and responsibility they share, both as a group and as individuals, in the communion and mission of the Church" (2:30).
In the New Evangelization dispensation of the Church, the apostolic mission is not a prerogative of the clergy and religious alone; it is the task of every Catholic. Exclusivity must yield to inclusivity in this regard and context. Joshua was fighting for the sustenance of the exclusivity club, but Moses and Jesus in the Gospel of Mark argue for extension and openness to others. On the one hand, John makes a case against a man doing deeds in the name of Christ but does not belong to the exclusive group of appointed followers of Jesus. The Lord, on the other hand, encourages a somewhat broader and enlarged vision of those who have the access and right to promote his mission: "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me" (Mk. 9:39).
Haven't we at some point been very closed-in? We have, at some point or another, directly or indirectly, encouraged and cultivated an opinion of exclusivity politically, socially, economically, racially, and spiritually? Haven't we toyed with the idea that the grace and spirit of Jesus are restricted to only us? But in a more subjective and limited way, have we not in some way limited the task of evangelization to only a select group in the Church-clergy and religious? That needs to change. All of us baptized Catholics are filled with the Holy Spirit and so summoned and sent to proclaim the Good News of Christ's redemption to all. The world and the Church need more prophets-witnesses in words and deeds to the Gospel. Just as Moses could not do it alone, so is it impossible for clergy and the religious to do it alone. All hands must be on deck to get Jesus into the mainstream of society and our parishes. In the spirit of Moses, how glorious would it be if all Catholics were prophets? And indeed, we are.
One of the ways you can sharpen your prophetic tools and be a more efficient prophet is to have a good knowledge of the Bible. The parish Bible study just began on September 21. There are eight weeks of bible study as a parish. Have you considered joining your brothers and sisters in this worthy and noble task? Biblical proficiency is one of the ways we can fulfill the goals of Pope St. John Paul II's exhortation in Christifideles Laici; for the lay faithful to become prophets of the New Evangelization in the Church and the World at large. Please, Sign up!
Let me seize this opportune moment to thank all of you who have supported me in various ways to remain a prophetic voice for the Gospel and the Church. It has been Twenty-One years of priesthood, and with you, I say, Thank You, God, for your faithfulness.
Fr. Bernard, OP