I chose this day because it included a reading from one of the prophets, Habakuk. I have been thinking much about “prophetic voices” lately, mainly because in much of the reading I’ve been doing about current events in this country and the world, that term has been popping up, mostly in connection with Pope Francis, but not exclusively. I have been trying to see a connection between this reading and what’s happening in the world, and while it might be a stretch, I still think it worthy of exploration.
What is it that the prophets do the most? Foretell the future, which is what prophecy means? That might be part of it, but ultimately, I have decided that those with this gift have a two-fold purpose. They hold up a mirror to us to show all the ugliness that we commit or allow—the idolization of wealth and power; the marginalization of different groups; the chasing of those distractions which keep us from trying to put right these things. What follows is ultimately disastrous, and it isn’t God who brings the disaster upon us; it is the natural result of our actions. This is an image that many of us run from, and if this were all they had to show us, that would certainly be understandable. But they don’t stop there. These prophets show us also our potential for beauty, the beauty of action and compassion, of wholeness and holiness. These are attainable objectives; we need not wait for some perfect future. We have examples all around us and we can take up this endeavor at any time. Only we hold ourselves back.
The other thing I note about these prophets is that what they have to tell us is essentially the same thing, over and over again. It’s not a difficult message, but we keep having to hear it because we forget it so easily. I suppose each generation has to learn this for themselves, but it seems awfully hard that we can’t keep it written in our hearts. Let us strive this Lenten season to keep our ears and hearts open for the sound of these voices.
— Michelle Allen