When you imagine what a prophet looks like, most likely it’s a raggedy dressed, messy beard (always a man, by the way), standing on a street corner yelling at everyone passing by but no one is stopping to listen.
That’s our imagination of a prophet. How would you imagine a righteous person? That’s easy. A blah sort of person, sitting in a corner of the room watching everyone else and thinking to him/herself, “I’m glad I’m not like them.” A righteous person, indeed.
Well, you know where I’m headed in this sermon, I’m about to dismiss both of those images.
If I went around the church today and asked each of you if you’re a prophet and a righteous person – you’d all say, “no,” but then think to yourselves, “I’m ‘kinda’ both.”
I can tell you today that you’d all be ‘kinda’ correct. I like that word kinda. It has a middle ground feeling to it. “Are you happy today?” Kinda. “Are you feeling okay today?” Kinda.
A prophet informs the present because of understanding the past with a hint toward the future. Want to hear that again? It’s important.
Jesus was a prophet as well as how many others we could name from the Bible and over the centuries. Martin Luther King, Jr., Oscar Romero, Thomas Merton, your mom. Wait! Your mom!?
Yes, your mom. She’s the one who told you not to put your hand on the stove. You didn’t listen and wonder how those painful blisters got there. Because you see, your mom learned that from her mom who learned it from her mom. None of them listened until the blister-thing happened. Now that prophetic message is communicated generation after generation to non-listening children’s ears. That’s the prophet each of us is.
“Do your homework if you want to get into a decent college.”
“Do the dishes because you’ll be washing them the rest of your life.”
“Learn to iron your dress shirts, it makes a difference for your first interview.”
“Wash your hands,” for obvious reasons.
When questions of faith arise each of us can be a prophet in our own personal way. We have centuries to fall back upon and our own experiences to build upon. That’s what makes a prophet. A prophet informs the present because of understanding the past with a hint toward the future.
We tend to think of righteousness as an end we achieve and settle into but it’s really the quality of our lives lived each day. Some days we may hit the nail on the head in our behavior and the next day falters a bit. But we always have an open eye toward what is just, dignified and acceptable in God’s eyes.
I think one of the most beautiful parts of being a Christian is that we don’t need to perfectly land each day. We’re empowered, however, to keep trying, each day. Christians kinda do the right thing and other times kinda fail. But, we admit our failings and promise God to try better the next time. No one – God, angels or anyone else can ask no more or less of ourselves. So, please keep trying to be “kinda” prophetic and righteous people.
Now. I’m not kinda finished talking, I am finished.
And thank you for kinda listening.
Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available at Amazon.com:
“Soulful Muse,” reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
“Living Faith’s Mysteries,” reflections on the Christian seasons
of Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
reflections on the Catholic Church and American culture
Newest books are “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages,”
Bowling as a metaphor for us growing up