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A prophet of what?

 

The Lunar New Year has been celebrated and a new spring has begun. The soothsayers have also been busy with their predictions for the Year of the Dragon.

Forecasters, a much more modern word than soothsayers, have offered us their predictions for everything from romance to our bank balances. Some look to ancient calendars, like the Mayan calendar, and offer us prophecies of doom, which frighten many children.

So when we read in the scriptures about the role of the prophets, we can easily misunderstand
God’s plan. Are these prophets just like those who predict the roller-coaster ride on the share market? Are these prophets no different from those who try to read our future in the stars or in the leaves of a tea-cup?

God’s plan for us is quite different. God uses prophets to bring his message to his people. If the prophet is not genuinely God’s messenger and speaks for other gods or at the command of others, then that supposed prophet is not carrying out God’s plan.

God’s prophets do not offer us a guide to the share market or to our success at the mah-jong table this year.

God’s prophets look at the world through God’s eyes. They see the present just as God sees the present. In this sense, each of us can be a prophet. We can see that, if there is the work of goodness in our city and in our families, that there will build a blessed future.

We can see that, if there is evil and greed in our city and in our families, then there will be trouble in the future. But we must look in the way that God looks, not in the way that mortals look.

In reality, our prophetic work is often flawed by our own limitations and our inability to really look at the world through God’s eyes.

The ultimate prophet is Jesus himself. He fulfils all the expectations built up in the past history of the Jewish people. Jesus is not a flawed prophet. There are no flaws in the ways in which Jesus looks at our world, because Jesus is God.

And how does Jesus look at the world? We know that Jesus looks at each of us and all of us, with the eyes of love.

When God speaks to us, we are commanded to listen to his word. When Jesus comes among us, he is God’s word, the word made flesh.

The acts of Jesus were symbolic of God speaking to us. In his ministry, his power and his role were gradually shown to God’s people, through incidents like that recorded in today’s gospel.

His cure of the man suffering from possession is a glimpse of God’s plan for all of us. His victory over evil is another glimpse of God’s plan for all of us.

And his teaching leads us to God’s plan for all of us, because it is teaching with authority, the authority of God himself.

So as we look to our future, we remember that we are listening to the prophetic word, which comes from God. We are listening to the word himself, Jesus among us. And that word does offer us hope for the future.

It is not about our luck at the casinos in Macau. It is about our freedom from obsessions and fears. It is about the victory over evil in our own lives and in our communities. It is about the love of God, spoken through the prophets, and made clear to us in the life and ministry of Jesus