2 Cor 12:7-10
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The readings today invite us to reflect on what it means to be a prophet, and how we can be “content with…insults…and persecutions.”
At our baptism, we were declared to be “Priest, Prophet, and King,” like the Lord Jesus into whose Body and mission we were baptized. A “prophet’ does not primarily tell the future; rather, a prophet tells the present, declaring to the people what the Word of the Lord says about our current circumstances, culture, and lifestyle. The prophet declares the next good step for God’s people to take on their constant road of repentance and growth in holiness. As the People of Life living amidst a culture of death, we are all prophets regarding the sanctity of life; we are prophets who declare that the only appropriate response to life at all stages, especially when most vulnerable, is a generous and loving “Yes.” We are prophets as we teach our children about the dignity of life; we are prophets when we share the pro-life message with friends and co-workers, with the community through letters to the local papers or over the internet. We are prophets when we enter the voting booth, as we have the obligation to do at each election, and elect candidates who are committed to protect the unborn.
Because a prophetic stance calls us to change and to repent of sin, the prophet will often be rejected. The readings tell us that this is par for the course. It is easy to think that the rejection or persecution that accompany the prophetic role mean we need to go back to the drawing board or perhaps hire a public relations firm to refine our message. But in fact it doesn’t mean that at all. We are called to be faithful, as Mother Teresa noted, whether or not we are successful. “They shall know that a prophet has been among them.”
This is also what Paul means by being “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints.” Sometimes this passage is related only to moral weaknesses. But he clearly also means persecutions and insults – the very things that we try too hard to avoid.