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The Prophetic Path - Summary
The Prophetic Path - Summary

The Prophetic Path of Scripture

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Christmas Eve

For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; … Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents.
—Malachi 3:2, 4:5–6, NRSV 

Father Richard writes of the prophetic path shown in the Scriptures:  

These words from the prophet Malachi describe the one who will be the fitting precursor for any coming Messiah. Christians have usually applied this passage to John the Baptist, as Jesus himself and the gospel writers already have done. But this text has even more significance. In very few verses, it succeeds in charting the sequencing of the prophetic Word of God. When the Scriptures are used maturely, they proceed in this order: 

1. They confront us with a bigger picture than we are used to: “God’s reign” that has the potential to “deconstruct” our false world views.  

2. They then have the power to convert us to an alternative worldview by proclamation, grace, and the sheer attraction of the good, the true, and the beautiful (not by lower-level motivations of shame, guilt, or fear).  

3. They then console us and bring deep healing as they “reconstruct” us in a new place with a new mind and heart.  

The prophet Malachi does this. He describes the work of the God Messenger as both “great and terrible,” both wonderful and threatening at the same time. It is not that the Word of God is threatening us with fire and brimstone. Rather, the Scripture is saying that goodness is its own reward and evil is its own punishment. If we do the truth and live connected in the world as it really is, we will be blessed and grace can flow. The consolation will follow from the confrontation with the Big Picture. If we create a false world of separateness and egocentricity, it will not work and we will suffer the consequences even now. In short, we are not punished for our sins, but by our sins! [1]

The Eternal Word of God that we read about in the prologue to John’s Gospel “leapt down,” as it says in the Book of Wisdom (18:14–15). It took its abiding place on Earth in order to heal every bit of separation and splitness that we experience. That splitness and separation is the sadness of the human race. When we feel separate, when we feel disconnected, when we feel split from our self, from our family, from reality, from the Earth, from God, we become angry and depressed people. Deep down, we know we weren’t created for separateness; we were created for the Big Picture and for union.

God sent Jesus into the world as the One who would personify that union—who would put human and divine, matter and spirit together. That’s what we spend our whole life trying to believe: that this ordinary earthly sojourn means something. [2]


[1] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent(Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2012), 84–86.

[2] Adapted from Richard Rohr, Really Only One Message,” homily, December 25, 2016.

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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