DEPRIVED OF PROPHETIC SPIRIT
We know that opposition to Jesus developed little by little: the jealousy of the Scribes, the irritation of the Teachers of the law and the rejection of the leaders of the Temple were growing until they end up in his condemnation and execution on the cross.
The Gospel-writer Luke also knew this. But intentionally, even compelling his own story, he talks about the rejection Jesus faced head-on in his first public action that Luke’s describing. Right from the beginning his readers had to be conscious that rejection is the first reaction that Jesus encounters among his own people when he presents himself as Prophet.
What happened in Nazareth isn’t an isolated fact, something in the past. The rejection of Jesus when he’s presented as Prophet of the poor, liberator of the oppressed and forgiver of sinners, can go on happening among his own people throughout the centuries.
It’s hard for us followers of Jesus to accept his prophetic dimension. We almost completely forget something that’s of such great importance. God wasn’t incarnated in a priest, consecrated to take care of religion in the Temple. Nor was God incarnated in a learned person busy about defending the order established by the Law. God was incarnated and revealed in a Prophet sent by the Spirit to announce Good News to the poor and liberation to the oppressed.
We forget that Christian religion isn’t just one more religion, born to supply Jesus’ followers with beliefs, rites and precepts adequate to live out their relationship with God. It’s a prophetic religion, driven by the Prophet Jesus in order to promote a more human world, oriented toward its definitive salvation in God.
We Christians run the risk of neglecting over and over again the prophetic dimension that must enliven Jesus’ followers. In spite of the great prophetic manifestations that have occurred throughout Christian history, it doesn’t stop being true what the well-known theologian H. von Balthasar affirms: By the end of the second century «there fell over the prophetic spirit of the Church a frost that hasn’t yet been completely melted».
Today, once again worried about restoring «religious things» in the face of modern secularization, we Christians face the danger of walking toward the future deprived of prophetic spirit. If that’s so, it could happen to us what happened to the neighbors of Nazareth: Jesus will pass through our midst and «walk away» to continue his journey. Nothing will keep him from continuing on with his liberating task. Others somewhere else will recognize his prophetic power and welcome his saving action.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf