Proclaiming Truth in Troubled Times
...Who has spoken through the prophets...
One of the things that I love most about the Christian tradition is that there have been many people in scripture, throughout history, and in our current times who have used their voices to proclaim the goodness of God, to speak out against injustice, and instill hope in those who are suffering. When we recite this line in the creed every week, we call to mind those whom God has called to proclaim truth amid many and varied circumstances. In scripture, prophets tend to come on the scene when God's people are experiencing oppression, have lost their way, or have lost hope.
In her book Friend of God and Prophets, Johnson says that “prophets are moved to speak truth to power about injustice, thus creating possibilities of resistance and resurrection.”* A prophet is called to respond to the world's needs through prayer and action. They proclaim God's love and justice, often at significant personal risk.
In scripture, the prophet Isaiah predicts the coming of the Messiah, who will redeem people from their sins. He proclaims hope among a people longing for a savior (Isaiah 61). John the Baptist cried out in the wilderness to prepare the way for the Lord and called for people to repent from their sins. The prophetess Anna, who spent the majority of her life in the temple worshipping and praying, "spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38).
In each of these examples from scripture, the prophets point to a God who saves, loves, and offers hope in troubled times. When we look at our world today, who are the prophets in our time? Who among us is calling out injustice and instilling hope? Two that come to mind for me are Servant of God Dorothy Day and Saint Oscar Romero. Both of these friends of God embodied the gospel call to speak against injustice, thus aligning themselves with the prophetic tradition.
Day helped found the Catholic Worker Movement and advocated for those who were made poor, hungry, and homeless. Romero paid the ultimate price of truth-telling with his life while celebrating mass. He was gunned down at the altar because he was outspoken about the injustices the people of El Salvador were enduring at the hands of an oppressive government regime.
We can look to these prophets (and many more) throughout the Christian tradition who have believed so mightily in resurrection hope, in a God who loves us and cares for those at the margins of our society, that they have risked their lives to attest to this love and truth.
The next time you pray the Nicene Creed, call to mind the prophets whose example you would like to follow. How are you called to proclaim God’s justice and truth in your life? What are the injustices you are called to speak out against? How might you pray for those on the margins in need of hope and comfort?
*Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets, 41.