On many Sundays, especially during Advent and Lent, we hear a reading from one of the prophets. What is significant about them for us? Didn’t Jesus fulfill all their predictions?
Lent and Advent are the times of the church year when the prophetic word forms an important part of the liturgical season. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, and Zephaniah are just some of the prophets who offer powerful and essential lessons for Christians of any era. Prophets do not predict the future—they are very much concerned about the present, calling Israel to follow once again the word of God.
The prophets witness to a life of faith. In the midst of an intense relationship with God, the prophets are very aware of their unworthiness to embrace this call from God, and struggle to accept the mission God entrusts to them.
The prophets speak on behalf of God. Each testifies that the word spoken is not from them, but from God. This lands them in trouble, at times, with their audience. Jeremiah, for example, felt betrayed by God as the prophetic message was delivered. People did not like the message because of their sin-filled lives and their displeasure was taken out on the prophet. While tempted at times to throw in the towel, the prophets remained true to the life of faith and persevered in the proclamation of God’s word. In modeling these virtues and calling us to greater fidelity, the prophets offer an example and message that are still important to us today.