Prophetic challenges for our generation

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, omi


October 18, 1999

Our world stands in need of prophecy. No one doubts this. It would seem too that there is no shortage of voices which claim to be prophetic. From every kind of religious and ideological camp there issue forth numerous voices, each one claiming to bring the particular challenge needed.

But what does our generation most need to hear in terms of prophetic challenge? Which voices resonate with the great prophets of Israel? Which voices are most consistent with the challenge left us by Jesus?

The first thing that distinguishes the prophetic voice, long before any criticism issues from it, is love. A prophet does not make a vow of alienation, but of love. The role of a prophet is not first of all to be angrily in your face, but to reveal God's challenge, but only as this first finds itself inside of God's blessing, love and forgiveness. More would need to be said about this because all of us know the negative impact of criticism when it is divorced from love.

Given that background, and with the hope that what follows radiates more love than anger, this column will try to name those issues on which our generation most stands in need of prophetic challenge. Where are we as a generation particularly blind, morally and spiritually? We need, I believe, to be prophetically confronted on three counts:

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, where are you?