May the Lord give you peace!
In paragraph 9 of “Rejoice and Be Glad,” Pope Francis writes of our inspiration to better live the faith being found in the humblest members of the Church. He is building off of the group of people that he calls the “Middle class of holiness” in paragraph 7 of the document. These are the people living around us who are striving for holiness through faith and charity. Last time we reflected on how these people may often be sitting around our dinner table.
Pope Francis writes that these people “share in Christ’s prophetic office.” In other words, Jesus Christ himself is speaking to us through these individuals. St. Paul commends all of the Corinthians to “strive eagerly for the spiritual gifts, above all that you may prophesy . . . one who prophesies does speak to human beings, for their building up, encouragement, and solace. Whoever speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but whoever prophesies builds up the church” (1 Cor. 14).
Our response to prophesy is to listen, understand and respond. The Pope describes how these people “spur” us on through a prophesy proclaimed by signs of holiness. Pope Francis describes examples of the signs in the previous paragraph. For example, he mentions, “men and women who work hard to support their families” and, in people’s “daily perseverance.”
The Pope concludes the paragraph with insights from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a.k.a., Edith Stein, writing on the “who” of prophesy. She speaks of two types of prophets and the times when these prophets emerge. The first type is the well-known prophet who emerges in times of tribulation. The second type of prophet is the humble, hidden prophet that “no history book ever mentions.”
We are currently in need of both kinds of prophets. We are certainly living in a time of the “darkest night” relative to the sexual abuse scandal within the institutional church and those in holy orders, i.e., priests and bishops. She states, “The greatest figures of prophesy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night.” Moreover, we are greatly in need of “the middle class of holiness” prophets to “spur” us on by the prophesy communicated through their lived faith and charity as we sit next to them at Mass, at the office or around the dinner table.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam, Fr. John F. Jirak, Pastor