Skip to comments.A Prophet Who Prepares
Posted on 12/08/2019 9:55:58 AM PST by Salvation
Preaching of John the Baptist, Baciccio (1690)
The Second Sunday of Advent usually features the ministry of St. John the Baptist. He was the prophet who fulfilled the Office of Elijah, of whom it was said, See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction (Mal 4:46).
St. John was a prophet who prepared the people of his time for the coming of Jesus by summoning them to repentance and opening them to the Kingdom of God in all its fullness.
The coming of Jesus for which St. John prepared them has, of course, now been fulfilled. For us who ponder St. Johns office today, the coming of Christ for which we must be ready is His Second Coming.
Whom does John the Baptist represent for us? Surely it is the Church, which Christ founded to prepare people and draw them from darkness into light. We experience the Church, not as an abstraction, but in our local bishop, priests, and deacons, as well as in our parents and catechists. Through all of them the Church fulfills her mission to be a prophet that prepares us.
Furthermore, you are also called to be a prophet who prepares others for the coming of Christ as Judge. You do not work independently of the Church (at least youd better not!); rather, the Church works through you.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of our prophetic office in the following way:
[The baptized] must profess before men the faith they have received from God through the Church and participate in the apostolic and missionary activity of the People of God (CCC #1270).
We have an obligation to evangelize and to be prophets who prepare others for Judgment Day.
How can we do this effectively? What are the some of the essential ingredients of a prophet who prepares others? The ministry of St. John the Baptist provides four:
Note that John says two things: He first says, Repent and then adds, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
This is a balance that must be gotten right. The preacher and prophet must speak frankly of sin and call people to repentance, but he must also speak of the grace available to conquer that sin and point out the good news that the Kingdom of Heaven is open and available. John the Baptist was willing and able to declare the reality of sin and the necessity of repenting of it, but he was also able to declare the availability of the Kingdom, wherein one is able to find the grace to overcome sin.
Too many preachers, catechists, and even parents lack this proper balance. Some would say that in the past sermons were all fire and brimstone; today, its more often the steady diet of God is love with little reference to the need for repentance. This is one of the reasons that our Churches have emptied over the past 4050 years.
This is because the good news only has relevance and significance if the bad news is understood. If you dont know the bad news, then the good news is no news. To illustrate, suppose you see a headline announcing a cure for a deadly disease. If youve never heard of this disease, the article will probably be of only passing interest, but if you or a loved one has the disease, you would probably read the article very carefully. Because you know in a personal way the bad news of the disease, the good news of the cure means a great deal to you.
It is the same with the Kingdom. We have to know the bad news of sin in a very personal and profound way to fully appreciate the good news of salvation. In the Church we have been soft-pedaling the bad news, and so the good news seems irrelevant to many people; the medicine of the cure seems pointless. Why pray, receive sacraments, or read Scripture if everything is just fine? Why bother going to Mass? Our Churches have emptied in part due to a lack of proper balance between repenting and believing that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
In order to be powerful and effective prophets, we must speak frankly about the reality of sin and balance it with the joyful announcement of the Kingdom, with its grace and mercy now available. Prophecy must have the right balance.
St. John the Baptist didnt sugarcoat things. He was explicit: we need to repent, or else. He spoke of a coming day of wrath and judgment for those who did not do so. He spoke of the axe being laid to the root of the tree, of fiery judgment and unquenchable fire. He was not afraid to call the self-righteous vipers, equating their pride with that of the ancient serpent.
Too many people today are afraid to speak like this and thus lack the balance necessary to be true, preparing prophets. St. John joyfully announced the breaking in of the Kingdom of God and the coming of the Messiah, but he spoke of repentance as the door of access. Do we have this balance, or do we preach mercy without repentance?
Here is the desired product of powerful prophecy: repentance unto salvation for all who believe. Preparing prophets do not seek merely to scare people; they seek to prepare them. To repent, to come to a new mind and heart by Gods grace, is to be prepared. This is the central work of the prophet who prepares: repentance unto salvation.
St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this aspect of prophecy and preaching. He is aware that he grieved some of them with his strong rebuke of the community (cf 1 Cor 5), but he is glad that it produced a godly sorrow, which in turn produced repentance and holiness. St. Paul also distinguishes between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow:
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret itI see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little whileyet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation [at sin], what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done . By all this we are encouraged (2 Cor 7:813).
An old priest once told me, Never think you have preached well unless the line to the confessional is long. Good preaching, among other things, produces repentance unto salvation. It may cause some to be angry or sad, but proper prophecy will produce a godly sorrow such that anger and sadness give way to gladness. The expected product of proper preaching is repentance unto salvation.
John the Baptist was not afraid of peoples opinions. He would not compromise his message based on his audience. The credentials of the temple leaders did not impress him. The status of the Jews as the chosen people did not cause him to soften his message. John had no fear of human opinion and felt no need to ingratiate himself to others, especially the rich and powerful.
Because of this, John the Baptists preaching was pure. He did not compromise the message out of fear or a need to flatter others. He spoke boldly, plainly, and with love, desiring the ultimate salvation of all. If that called for strong medicine, he was willing to dispense it.
The ancient martyrs went to their deaths proclaiming Christ, yet many of us today are afraid of someone raising his eyebrows at us. Fear is a great enemy of powerful prophecy, for it causes many to remain silent when they should speak. The fear of what other people might think causes many to compromise the truth and even sin against it. We must let go of this kind of fear if our prophecy is to have the purity necessary to achieve the goal.
Johns disciples and his audiences were fascinated by him, drawn in by his charisma. They wanted to know more about him, but instead John talked about Jesus. That was his message: Jesus, not me. If we are going to be powerful prophets, our message must be about Jesus, not about us and what we think. We are not out to win an argument or boost our ego; our goal is not to become famous. We are about Jesus Christ, His gospel, His message, His truth. John said of Jesus, He must increase; I must decrease (John 3:30). A prophet speaks for the Lord, not for himself. A prophet announces Gods agenda, not his own. A prophet is about Jesus.
Here, then, are four important points about powerful prophecy: poise, product, purity, and person.
You are a preparing prophet whom the Lord seeks. Someone was John the Baptist for you. Someone brought you to Christ. Thank God for that person, but remember that you, too, are called to be John the Baptist for others. Learn from John. Apply his principles and make disciples for Jesus Christ.
Monsignor Pope Ping!
Mat 3:1 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was,
Mat 3:2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. “
Mat 3:7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath?
Mat 3:8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.
Mat 3:9 Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.
Mat 3:10 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.
And John wasn’t afraid to speak directly to offenders, pointing out some specifics and warning of eternal punishment. What happened to John?
So....................anyone want to be a prophet?
Judgement is for the Lord only
Men given the power to judge in this world should take the task very seriously
A fool spends his valuable time judging others in this world with no
Power or merit
Much of this is simple projection. Witness the demoncat party
“Comfort, Comfort, Ye My People”
by Johann Olearius, 1635-1711
Translated by Catherine Winkworth, 1829-1878
1. Comfort, comfort, ye My people,
Speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness,
Mourning ‘neath their sorrows’ load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem
Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover
And her warfare now is over.
2. Yea, her sins our God will pardon,
Blotting out each dark misdeed;
All that well deserved His anger
He no more will see or heed.
She hath suffered many a day,
Now her griefs have passed away;
God will change her pining sadness
Into ever-springing gladness.
3. Hark, the Herald's voice is crying
In the desert far and near,
Bidding all men to repentance
Since the Kingdom now is here.
Oh, that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way;
Let the valleys rise to meet Him
And the hills bow down to greet Him.
4. Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher places plain;
Let your hearts be true and humble,
As befits His holy reign.
For the glory of the Lord
Now o'er earth is shed abroad,
And all flesh shall see the token
That His Word is never broken.
The Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Is. 40:1-8
Author: Johann Olearius, 1671
Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt.
Titled: “Troestet, troestet meine Lieben”
Tune: “Freu dich sehr”
1st Published in: _Genevan Psalter_, 1551
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