February 15, 2023, 8:00 AM

No prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:20-21

The word “prophecy” conjures up images of soothsayers predicting the future and foretelling events. Prophets in Scripture seem to be a strange bunch of characters – disliked, misunderstood, often stoned, and thrown into empty wells. Parents would undoubtedly have told their children not to become a prophet.

At least 16 prophets are mentioned in Scripture, most of whom were men. Isaiah was, perhaps, one of the most influential of the prophets based on the amount of his recorded writings. Women were also prophets, namely, Moses’ sister Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14).

St. Francis was late on the scene as a prophet. He told of how God wanted human beings to be at one with God in harmony with all of creation. Even the lepers had to be included in God’s world. St. Francis avoided the unsavory demise of the other prophets because he was prophesying the goodness of all creation rather than repentance to a group of headstrong people.

Serving as the mouthpiece for God is a big responsibility. And, becoming a prophet of God is no easy task. Isaiah’s mouth was burned with a hot coal. The prophet Ezekiel had to eat a scroll. Jeremiah suffered less with only having words tucked into his cheeks by God’s fingers.

The final outcome for all prophets was that the words they spoke were no longer their own. Clearly and simply, they spoke for God. They did not spin their own interpretations. More importantly, the prophets spoke truthfully about what was happening in the “here and now.” While they warned of potential consequences, the prophets were not fortune tellers! Foretelling the future was forbidden as only God knows what happens in the future.

All people following the way of the Christ (including everyone connected to the unfolding of God in the universe) are commissioned to be prophets, like it or not. That’s you and me! A true prophet sees the world from God’s viewpoint, and then tells others about that reality and not their own. Witnessing to God’s goodness is paramount to prophecy.

Hot burning coals on the lips, stuffing a mouth full of parchment, and stuffing cheeks with words are expressions of God changing the heart of the person who needs to speak for God. Today, we might not use those terms. Likewise, not many of us are up for such in your face, wake-up calls from God.

There are ways, however, to see how God wants us to speak and prophesy. In this world of chaos, babbling newscasters, political commentators, and bots and trolls on the internet, our minds are cluttered. The decluttering process does not require hot coals on our lips. It requires that we declutter our hearts in silence. Stop listening to the falsehoods that our culture espouses, and listen to the voice of God from within and from which you and I are to speak.

Silence can come in many ways. We silence ourselves by repeating or reciting the rosary, doing meditation, undertaking contemplation, and, perhaps best of all, utilizing Centering Prayer. All these take time. Yet, it takes less time than attempting to figure things out without God’s internal voice and presence.

And, when moved into silence, go forth and prophesy boldly knowing that you are speaking for God. Your personal opinions no longer matter.

Prayers and Blessings,

Fr. John