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The Prophetic Path - Summary
The Prophetic Path - Summary

The Prophetic Holy Family

Monday, December 25, 2023

Christmas Day

Father Richard praises the courageous and prophetic faith of Mary and Joseph:

Kingdom of God people are history makers. They break through the small kingdoms of this world to an alternative and much larger world, God’s full creation. People who are still living in the false self are history stoppers. They use God and religion to protect their own status and the status quo of the world that sustains them. They are often fearful people, the nice proper folks of every age who think like everyone else thinks and who have no power to break through, or as Jesus’ opening words put it, “to change” (Mark 1:15; Matthew 4:17).

How can we really think that Mary—if she thought like any good Jewish girl of her time was trained to think—could possibly be fully ready to hear, to speak, or to live out God’s message? She had to let God lead her outside of her box of expectations, her comfort zone, her dutiful religion of follow-the-leader (a feature of all religions at their lower levels). She was very young and largely uneducated. Perhaps theology itself is not the necessary path but instead simply integrity and courage. Nothing anyone said at the synagogue would have prepared Mary or Joseph for this situation. They both had to rely on their angels! What proper bishop would trust such a situation? I wouldn’t myself. All we know of Joseph is that he was “a just man” (Matthew 1:19), probably also young and uneducated. The circumstance is a total afront to our criteria and way of evaluating authenticity.

So why do we love and admire people like Mary and Joseph, and then not imitate their faith journeys, their prophetic courage, their non-reassurance by the religious system?

Like the prophets we have met this year, Mary and Joseph trusted their encounter with God and acted accordingly:

These were two laypeople who totally trusted their inner experience of God and followed it to Bethlehem and beyond. There is no mention in the Gospels of the two checking out their inner experiences with the high priests, the synagogue, or even their Jewish Scriptures. Mary and Joseph walked in courage and absolute faith that their experience was true, with no one except God to reassure them they were right. Their only safety net was God’s love and mercy, a safety net they must have tried out many times, or else they never would have been able to fall into it so gracefully.


Adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2012), 67–69.

Image credit: Madison Frambes, Untitled 8 (detail), 2023, naturally dyed paper and ink, Mexico, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image.

The prophetic path is a daily choice to walk along an ever-unfolding landscape.

Story from Our Community:  

As I read the reflections in the Daily Meditations about “prophets,” it seems to me that we have many prophets among us. Scientists and lay people are right now expressing the damage we humans inflict on our earth, causing disruption of life in all parts of creation. We sin against the Creator through our arrogance and selfish misuse of our world. As always, humans disregard the voice of the prophet because the message is not what we want to include in our plan for our lives.
—Friar John R.

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