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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Delvaux

Complacency, Complicity, and the Call

Prophets feel like something set solidly in the past. They have their time period – just like horse drawn carriages or gladiators or oil lamps. Prophets were then, we are now.


If we have prophets in the world today, then we have to wrestle with the idea we are the ones who are “hard of face and obstinate of heart.” We have to wonder if we are the ones who are speaking insults, creating hardships, persecuting, and constraining. Prophets exist in places and times where there is suffering, persecution, oppression, hatred, and deep comfortable complacency.


The truth of the matter is that there are prophets today. They are easy to find. Look to find those voices that are dismissed, oppressed, facing prejudice, reviled. Look to the voices speaking from a place that is farthest from power, furthest from the social center. Look to the voices that those in power try to systematically discredit, dismiss, and silence.


We sit at a perilous moment in time. Just as with countless prophets in history, we have voices proclaiming the precipice that we are teetering on.


They are the voices I heard in Selma and Birmingham who said the greatest threat they see today is not poverty, lack of education, violence, hunger. Each organization, each person pointed to one thing – the systematic dismantling of voting rights. Whether it was from the voice of a woman who marched on Bloody Sunday, an organization working to end violence, or a social service agency single handedly trying to serve an entire county’s needs – they all saw the crisis with the attacks on voting rights. These are prophets, heirs to our history, and fighting tooth and nail to keep history from repeating.


Then there are the voices that point to the systematic dismantling of the very rights we celebrate with this past week’s holiday. The freedoms and rights we take for granted are being chipped at in ways that are often hard to understand or see the full ramification of.


They are the voices that name and shine a light on our enduring reality of systematic racism in our nation and our Church. These prophets are targeted all the more by those in power, those who benefit most from this broken system of ours. These prophets point to the dangers of those of us who have the privilege of complacency and the inaction that breeds even in those of us who agree with the words of the prophets.


Today’s prophets challenge. When I look at where there are voices marginalized by the Church itself, there are so many actively marginalized voices. LGBTQIA+, POC, women, and so many others. Then there are those aspects of the Gospel that are marginalized. It is telling that on the cusp of the Eucharistic Revival the USCCB decimated and “restructured” the department for Justice, Peace, & Human Developing including a 50% cut in staffing. Those speaking against this, who point to the poverty, war, broken justice system, and the myriad other social issues are dismissed as missing the crux of our faith. Yet as the Eucharist is exalted this month in Indianapolis, these prophets remind us that we are called to become that which we consume. These prophets remind us of the Jesus we are called to be in the world, nurtured by the Eucharist.


Prophets changed their worlds. They transformed hearts and minds. They rewove the fabric of society. They drew together the threads of the individuals around them to create the vision of God. Today’s readings remind us of the call to be prophets, or if that is not our call, to answer the voices of the prophets among us to help build world more fully in God’s loving vision. We have to make an active, daily, profoundly uncomfortable choice – to either live lives of prophets or to be complicit in the “hard of face and obstinate of heart” world. There is no room for complacency or inaction as a third choice. May Jesus not be amazed at our lack of faith.


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