The Bible in Dialogue with Questions of the Day: The Church a prophetic people
As at the beginnings of the prophetic movement in Israel, occasionally today individuals or groups are spoken of as being prophetic, when what is meant is that they had foresight, or planned ahead. The Church, the people of God, has a prophetic role in a deeper sense, in that they continue to bear witness in the world to the revelation of the mystery of the kingdom of God. The Vatican Council reminds us of this in its document on the Church (paragraph 12): “The holy people of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office: it spreads abroad a living witness to him, especially by a life of faith and love and by offering to God a sacrifice of praise, the spirit of lips praising his name (see Hebrews 13:15)”. The theme is taken up in the more recent Catechism of the Catholic Church, when speaking of the Church, the people of God. They are a priestly, prophetic, and royal people (paragraphs 783, 785). “Jesus Christ is the one whom the Father anointed with the Holy Spirit and established as priest, prophet, and king. The whole People of God participates in these three offices of Christ and bears the responsibilities for mission and service that flow from them. .. The holy People of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office, above all in the supernatural sense of faith that belongs to the whole People, lay and clergy, when it unfailingly adheres to this faith . . . once for all delivered to the saints and when it deepens its understanding and becomes Christ’s witness in the midst of this world.”
The individual believer and the entire Church, the people of God, can draw inspiration for its prophetic mission from prophets such as Amos, with an awareness of being called through the gift of faith by God to bear witness to Christ by Christian living. They can make themselves aware of the vision of the revelation of the mystery and the dignity of Christian life in Christ so magnificently set before us in the Epistle to the Ephesians. The can also bear in mind how Jesus, after rejection in his home town, sent forth his apostles to preach the presence of the kingdom of God, with a call to repentance.
Dialogue with questions of our own day may profitably bear these truths in mind. Such dialogue has very often to do with secular matters, in a world that is becoming increasingly secular, with little place for the divine or the demands made by Christ’s message of the kingdom of God, and the mystery of salvation for humanity it contains. This Christian belief can give a balance in such dialogue.