Preparing the Way of the Lord: A Promise of New Life

Five years ago the world lost a great man. Nelson Mandela, the Father of modern South Africa died. The nation was in mourning for someone who was a beacon of freedom and equality for them and for the whole world. Mandela was a champion of opposition to apartheid, separation and inequality of races in South Africa. He was a prophet and advocate for justice and equality for all.

In so many ways, Mandela was another John the Baptist. Both he and John spent time in a “desert experience.” Both came forth to proclaim a new world. Both were prophets who called for change of heart, a turning around. Mandela called for a South Africa that was open to all, marked by freedom and justice. John heralded that the reign of God, a reign of justice and of peace had come near. Theirs was a call for change, a message of hope.

This is what prophets do. A prophet speaks God’s promise and reveals the hope that is God’s dream for all. No one prophet is adequate to make this happen. Our world needs many, again and again. For God’s dream of a world marked by liberation, peace, love and justice continues. But it has not yet been accomplished.

Prophets spend their lives proclaiming God’s dream in word and in action. This was and continues to be the message and mission of Jesus. It has been passed on to us as a mission for the whole world, for all humanity. The Spirit of Jesus draws all humanity to God’s dream of justice and peace, freedom and harmony.

We are disciples of Jesus, we are also prophets. Our very baptism calls us to share the mission of Jesus. It also draws us to the role of prophet for our world, beginning with our own circle of family, friends and community. At our baptism we are anointed with the oil of Chrism as a sign of the gift of the Spirit that is given us. With this anointing we hear these words: “As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.”

This Advent season calls our local community, our new parish of [insert new parish name] to repentance, that is, “a change of heart”. Change is a challenge, letting go is not easy. But it is also a promise, a hope for the future and thus it is life-giving. May we become the new community of love, harmony, peace and promise we are called to be. May we be the prophets of God’s promise in our world and in our community.

How are you a prophet for your new parish community?