The Bible in Dialogue with Questions of the Day: God’s prophetic voice always present, whether people listen or not
The prophet Ezekiel was commanded by God to preach to his people, whether they listened or not so that they might know that there was a prophet among them. God’s prophetic voice is present in the Church and in the world even if some would wish it otherwise. It is present in the Church in a special way during liturgical celebrations, especially during Mass, since when the Scriptures are read in the Church it is Christ himself who is present proclaiming his Gospel. In the book of Ezekiel those who rejected God’s voice through the prophet are described as rebels. In any generation, more particularly in our own, there are many who reject any voice outside that perceptible by the senses as an unacceptable interference. God, not as an imposition but as a saving God, will continue to address his message to these. This dialogue will continue between an agnostic or unbelieving world through believers.
Within the Church itself there will be division as to what extent the Church’s message and practice should change to conform to changed circumstances and outlook. In Church authority there can be a prophetic presence that proclaims its central message even if not found acceptable by a number of believers. It can be difficult at times to perceive whether the Church’s official attitude is truly prophetic, in the tradition of the text of Ezekiel, or simply stubborn refusal to change.
There is a prophetic presence in the central position of the cross in the Church’s proclamation, a folly for some but the power of God for believers (see 1 Corinthians 1:18). Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God, but this is perceived by faith, not through human reason. God is the source of our life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; “therefore , as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’”.
The prophetic presence of God may even be seen in divisions and questioning within the Church. The apostle Paul had to experience this in Corinth, and it led him to understand the mystery of suffering and personal weakness, once he understood that through belief in God’s plan of salvation human weakness can show forth God’s power. Jesus’ own townspeople at Nazareth perceived the externals with regard to Christ. Faith sees both the externals and the power of God in his Son and working through him.