From the start, contrary to my usual habit, let me state the following: all Christians are potentially Prophets. The gist of what prophecy consists of is given to us in the Old Testament, however the prophecy that Christ offers us is infinitely much more.
Prophecy grows with us, and within us, until it reaches a first fullness: Union with Jesus – as Paul’s words aptly put it: “I no longer live but Christ lives in me”. (Gal.2:20) In this sense a rather detailed idea of the full Christian prophecy is to be found in St. Teresa of Avila’s Seventh Mansion in her book The Interior Castle, or in the last third of the Spiritual Canticle of St. John of the Cross, or in his work The Living Flame of Love. Indeed, they all describe the state of the individual when he or she has reached the “Union of Love”.
What is prophecy?
First, when we say “prophecy” or “prophets”, we often think it refers to people found in the Old Testament, and we wrongly tend to believe that, with the coming of Christ, prophecy ended. We understand prophecy by just remembering Moses, Elijah, or Isaiah, or any of the prophets. Admittedly, when you think about it, there are not many prophets to be found considering the number of centuries that have passed by, however we see them as privileged people. We feel they are “privileged” because, at certain moments of their lives – not all the time – God decides to talk to them when He has a mission in mind, or to give them orders, messages, or something to write, or a mime to perform. This decision of God to intervene in the life of a human being gives us a deep perception of a great closeness and knowledge of God: an intimacy between the Deity and his creature. This intimacy can lead as well to miracles (see Elijah, and Elisha…).
The Prophets do not always enjoy this experience though: God seems frightening, too high, too holy (see Isaiah 6, or often Moses, in the Sinai)! When you get closer to God “it burns”, you might even die. Indeed, in plain language let us recall what God says to Moses: “I’ll talk to you on the Mountain, but nobody can touch even foot of the mountain, otherwise they will die. They will hear me speaking to you, but they mustn’t get close.” Often, in the Old Testament people thought that if they got too close to God, they would die. This is the simple reason why the people of God asked Him not to talk directly to them; they feared they might die if the saw Him, if they got too close to Him, as is noted in the quotation in the section that follows.
Then, too, there is the added meaning that is given to “prophecy” when referring of the Old Testament, where people consider that “prophecy” is about telling of “future events”.
Jesus, The Prophet
However, is this the extent of it all? Certainly not. This is an incomplete prophecy, and Jesus, the Real and Only Prophet, will make it complete. Jesus will not only incarnate real final Prophecy, but He will share it with everybody.
In John 1, John the Baptist is asked: “are you the Prophet Moses mentioned and that we are expecting? The Prophet-Messiah.” John says, “no.” Why? Because all Prophecy is embodied in Jesus, and He is the One that Moses spoke about in Deuteronomy:” The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” (Deut.18:15-16)
Yes indeed, Jesus is The Word of God, who brings us “words” that are Spirit and Life. He is God Himself, nothing less. Therefore, when He speaks, it is God Himself who speaks. In His human nature He is in constant dialogue with God the Father, namely, with His own divinity. Significantly at various times in the Gospel of John Jesus can be seen speaking to the Father.
The goal of Jesus, then, is to introduce us into His intimacy with the Father.
He wants us to receive His Words, to be transformed by them, and to allow Jesus Himself to grow in us, and enable us to attain even to His heights. More importantly Jesus wants His Words to be alive in us, and in Him and with Him to transmit them to others. In this light Prophecy is all about transformation and being united to the only Prophet and having a share of His Prophecy.
From day one, in our spiritual life, we are invited, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to hear Jesus talking to us, giving us our Daily Bread. We are not obliged to await a further stage in spiritual life in order to be made capable of listening to Jesus, the Risen Lord, today. We are in the new era inaugurated by Jesus, an enormously powerful era – Jesus is amongst us and wants to talk to us.
When we receive his Body and Blood, his soul and his spirit, his whole person in the Host, we receive the whole being of The Prophet par excellence. We receive nothing less than Him.
Hence, the intimacy that we see in the Old Testament, the intimate personal dialogue we witness between the Old Testament Prophets with God, we see not only available in the New Covenant, but developed to the fullest degree. Indeed, all those Baptised are Prophets. Indeed, all of them have received the Spirit of Prophecy, the Holy Spirit.
Sadly, however, we tend to forget about prophecy in the New Testament, while the opposite should be the case: Jesus has accomplished Prophecy and has made it available to everybody. We tend to think that the Old Testament prophecy is not for everybody, and that what it offers is “elevated” and exceptional. On the contrary the truth is quite different. Certainly, Jesus has clarified the fullness of Prophecy, of what it consists, but again and again we see that He wants everybody to allow it to grow in him or her. Let us revive our perfect gift of Prophecy: the ability to receive a daily word from Jesus, and put it into practice, namely, through Lectio Divina, and thereby ensure we receive the Body and Blood of The Prophet and are transformed in Him.
You are a Prophet – remember it – and make your prophecy come alive.