In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, the early church found profound passages that seemed to depict and foretell the coming of the Messiah of God, Jesus, a messiah who would undergo great suffering on behalf of God’s people, to lead them to God, to bring them to salvation.
In today’s passage the prophet Isaiah speaks of his prophetic calling, tracing it all the way back to his mother’s womb, and past that to the Lord God himself, who willed that Isaiah be his servant—for the salvation of the Lord’s people, who themselves had been called by God, and consecrated to God in a covenant relationship.
But did you notice that Isaiah only speaks of his calling in terms of the community of God, Israel? God will indeed glorify Isaiah, the passage says, and that glory, the very light of the Lord himself, will not stay with Isaiah; the light will then flow from Isaiah, onto God’s people, onto their darkness, so they will awaken to what they are, and to what they can do in the service of their Lord God—so they will return to being faithful to God their Lord.
In this passage, we see that the foundation of the vocation of any prophet—be it man or woman—is God, and it is from this ground of divinity and truth and light and mercy that the prophet then shares his or her insights, denunciations, and calls to faithfulness and justice.
We think of the call to prophesy as an individual’s vocation; and yes, in every generation, throughout the world, and in other faith communities, the Lord our God brings forth individuals who speak to us with clarity and truth, and call us back to justice and faithfulness, back to God himself, so that we may be what the Lord has created us to be, brothers and sisters living in solidarity with one another.
The truth is that all of us, because of our baptism, share in the great glory of God himself. All of us share in a capacity for living lives of clarity and truth, lives of justice and compassion. All of us are called to prophesy so that the Lord may be the God of all people, at all times, in all circumstances, especially there where people are hungry, without a country, without shelter, without freedom, without dignity.
We can even prophesy without the use of words, as Jesus did, simply by loving each other, by making room for love, mercy, and kindness in our lives, lives that are often crowded with jealousy, rivalries, anxieties, materialism, arrogant ambition, and with judging and fighting one another. And this love will heal us, teach us, and correct us; indeed, it will restore us all to original solidarity, just as our Lord God has always intended for us.
Prophecy in the name of the Lord begins with us, we must be our own prophets in our own lives, allowing the Light of the Holy One to shine into our darkness, and our shame, and feelings of unworthiness, so that our Lord God can restore us back to life. This way we will be carriers of the Lord God, and all people will live in the light, and share the light.