The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenements halls and whispered in the sounds of silence. - Paul Simon: (1941: American musician and singer-songwriter)
Scripture text: (AM 7:12-15)
Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos,
“Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
When we were baptized we were anointed with holy chrism, and the priest said, "God anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Jesus was anointed priest, prophet and king, so you must live always as a member of his body -- priest, prophet and king -- ruler." We are called to be prophets. We are anointed as prophets. Yet that still seems strange to most of us, I believe, because we really do think of prophets as people who are other than ourselves.
It's important this morning to discover a little bit about what it means to be a prophet. First of all, a prophet is not someone who predicts the future. I think that's sometimes why we are unable to think of ourselves as prophets because we think we would have to be able to predict the future. But that's not what prophecy is. A prophet is someone who, as in the book of the prophet Isaiah, he speaks about himself: "God has taught me, so I speak as God's disciple and I know how to sustain the weary. Morning after morning, God wakes me up to hear, to listen like a disciple, someone learning God's ways."
A prophet, as Isaiah says, is someone who not only speaks for God, but who first listens to God. We have to be those who listen deeply to the word of God.
There's a story about St. Francis of Assisi that perhaps you've heard. He was telling his followers how they were to go out and preach -- "Go everywhere and preach God's words" -- and he said, "And if necessary, use words." In other words, you're going to preach more by the way you live, the example of your life, than you will by any words you say. Words can be shallow, empty, hollow, and hypocritical even, but the genuineness of your life is a message that will truly be heard. That's how we become prophetic.