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Ministries, Charisms, Fruits - 2 Prophets

Sunday, May 31, 2009
Throughout the history of Israel there were many prophets and the stories of their lives and their writings have been handed down to us in the Old Testament. These venerable figures were inspired by God to perform a task, namely to prepare the people of Israel for the coming of God in the person of Jesus Christ. We also have an account in the Gospel of the most important of all of them, John the Baptist, whose mission was to 'prepare the way of the Lord'. All the prophets had a common task: they were sent by God as messengers to the people, bringing God's message to them. In the writings of Paul, we see however that prophecy continued to have an important role. This role was different to that of the Old Testament prophets and John the Baptist. It is not one of preparing the people for the coming of God as man. That event has already happened.

Prophecy is, according to Paul, one of the charismata, gifts given through the grace of God. The grace that comes to us by the Holy Spirit justifies and sanctifies us, but also makes us useful in doing God's work. The exercise of this gift is spoken of as a specific role or ministry in the Church. Prophets have a role in building up the Church, the Body of Christ. Paul thinks that prophets are people who have a particularly strong faith, a close relationship with God. They are able to be responsive to the movement of the Holy Spirit, and are able to discern the will of God for the believing community, and proclaim it (Romans 12:6). Prophets were important in the early Church, precisely because they spoke words that came from God. This had a beneficial effect not only on the dynamics of the Christian community, but also in the development of mission and outreach to those who did not believe.

In today's Church, the need for the prophetic ministry is every bit as important as in the early Church. Listening to the voice of the Lord, speaking especially through those who proclaim and preach the Gospel, is essential in building up the Church, and helping its members to live as one body in the truth of Christ. It is also important in making sure that the message of the Gospel is heard by all those who do not believe, that they might come to Christ.

Robert Gay OP


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