The call to be a prophet is not an optional extra for Christians. It is at the heart of our baptismal vocation. Jesus tells his disciples to ‘proclaim from the housetops’ the teaching that they have heard from him, and to be ready to ‘declare themselves for him.’
The prophet’s calling could be dangerous and costly. Jeremiah continued to speak the Word of God, even when his message was rejected; even when he was ridiculed, rejected by his friends and, in the end, thrown into a prison cell. Jeremiah trusted completely in God’s care for him.
Jesus himself did not flinch from speaking out, though he knew that to do so would bring him into conflict with the authorities and lead him to the Cross. The first disciples understood clearly the cost of following Christ. Many of the early Christians gave their lives for the faith, and the witness of their martyrdom became a sign that drew others to the Church.
We too are called to be prophets. By our baptism, we have a mandate to declare ourselves for Christ, to stand up for truth and justice, and to denounce injustice and structural sin, wherever it is found. The injustices of our day are different to those of the Lord’s time, but the call to stand with those who are poor, oppressed or marginalised is the same. It takes some courage to proclaim our faith and values, but God is with us. Every hair on our heads has been counted.