I’ve encountered my fair share of prophets, some bizarre, some downright scary, and some surely authentic, too. As I exited the Park Street “T” stop in my Boston days, I often walked by a man wearing a colorful “Repent, the time is near!” sandwich board, replete with an image of an angry Jesus, a nuclear cloud in the background, and masses of people fleeing the terror. I suppose he considered himself a prophet.
Or, during my time in charismatic Christian circles, I prayed with a man who knew things about my past and potential future that I certainly didn’t tell him. I left in tears, profoundly encouraged. Was he a prophet “speaking to people for their strengthening and comfort” (1 Corinthians 14:3)?
When I preached my first sermon through my first church internship, I shared with the suburban and wealthy crowd about my time at the Catholic Worker serving meals to homeless men. I quoted Dorothy Day on the reason people become poor and are kept poor: “Our problems stem from this dirty, rotten system.” Was I a prophet, delivering a difficult social justice message? Given the level of ego and self-righteousness I carried, hardly.
The witness of the biblical prophets is something that has been central to Father Richard Rohr’s teaching for many years.-Mark Longhurst
The Daily Meditations theme for 2023 is The Prophetic Path. The witness of the biblical prophets—from Moses and Miriam all the way through Jesus and the early church—is something that has been central to Father Richard Rohr’s teaching for many years. One of Richard’s earliest tape sets, which we will feature throughout the year, is from 1980 on the Hebrew Prophets. And importantly, Richard follows the apostle Paul in emphasizing that the prophetic path is a gift to the church (1 Cor. 14), a message with transforming power that is not only for ancient times, but for our times as well.
The prophetic path is a message with transforming power that is not only for ancient times, but for our times as well.-Mark Longhurst
The first thing we do when choosing a Daily Meditations theme is create space to listen. This year, the Daily Meditations team and I posed a simple question to Richard: “What’s on your heart right now?” Richard sat on his navy blue couch, joined in person by CAC staff member Paul Swanson. The rest of us “Zoomed” in from around the country. We dialogued about the tremendous suffering in the world today and the necessity of unabashed weeping and lamenting for any healing path forward.
The prophets teach us grief work, we noticed, while also embodying compassionate solidarity with those who most suffer. They ultimately lead us to a vision of wholeness that includes, and does not deny, our pain. We were aware of Richard’s formal stepping back from active involvement in CAC programs, even though he will continue to participate as his energy allows. A sweet tenderness and appreciation, through the presence of the Holy Spirit, enveloped us.
A few of us later “wordsmithed” phrases and mapped out organizational goals, but The Prophetic Path emerged first from such prayerful listening. Somehow each year a wisdom takes hold that is far greater than each of us could contribute individually. The theme is not so much “decided” as it is heard and named.
The prophets . . . ultimately lead us to a vision of wholeness that includes, and does not deny, our pain.—Mark Longhurst
We know that the theme of prophecy, and a year of “DMs” inspired by it, might be new for many readers. We hope to reclaim The Prophetic Path as a path that we can trust and as a gift to be to be rediscovered in our time. Prophets do not need to be strange and scary, or righteous zealots that few want to be around. There is some of the prophet in each of us.
The prophets expand our hearts and enfold us in a larger vision. They guide with truth to the hidden places, to the parts of ourselves and world that we have neglected and ignored. They uncover the systems that oppress, and they are not afraid to wail with grief or dance with joy.
Finally, they affirm a breathtaking hope for God’s restoring love that mends and unites the world. Together, following their lead, we set out on a journey to respond to God’s passionate presence and call.
Since they first began in 2007, Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations have provided hope and healing for hundreds of thousands across the world. Sign up any time to receive these free daily and weekly email reflections on the Christian contemplative path of transformation.