The people reflected in the readings wanted a prophet—
someone who would speak with authority for God—
and maybe we might like to have a prophet in our time as well?
You realize we actually do have such a prophet?
The Church has the role of prophet in our world today.
Our Lord himself founded the Church,
and poured out his Holy Spirit
to guide the Church with assurance—
even, as needed, with “infallibility”—
meaning, the Church cannot, and will not, err,
when teaching about Christ and how to live for Christ.
So the Church, as a whole—all of us—is prophet to the world.
Each of us, by our baptism has a share in this prophetic role.
This is why it matters that you and I are spiritually active:
why be faithful in going to confession and Mass?
Why continually seek to grow in our faith?
This is why our Catholic schools are worth sacrificing for.
This is why our religious education program is not an “extra.”
We are prophets: Christ is counting on each of us!
Within the Church, the prophetic role
belongs in a special way to the “teaching office” of the Church—
that is, her bishops, led by the pope,
and assisted by deacons and priests.
Now, you might look to your pastor, or our bishop, or our pope,
and you might shake your head! But it’s always been that way.
We’ve always been men with feet of clay,
with our heads in the sand and our finger in the air.
God could have sent us angels to lead the Church;
instead, he personally chose Twelve, with all their flaws.
Maybe he did that was so it would be clear, from day one,
that the success of the Church was the work of the Holy Spirit.
The story goes that Napoleon threatened to crush the Church—
and a Cardinal [Consalvi] replied,
“If in 1,800 years we clergy have failed to destroy the Church,
do you really think that you'll be able to do it?”
If there are times the Church says things we don’t want to hear,
or are hard to follow—well, that is part of what a prophet does.
It is been a bone of contention, for some,
that I am “too conservative” about teaching the Faith,
or celebrating the Mass.
Now, I admit I am prone to my own biases and flaws, as are we all.
If you are here 50 or 100 years from now,
no pastor will follow me who will be any different.
So, the one thing that can correct for that is
that I submit myself, as much as possible,
to wisdom and authority greater than myself:
the pope, the bishops, the Second Vatican Council,
and the longstanding Tradition of the Church.
But not just me, as your pastor—but all of us.
Our common ground can only be what the Church actually teaches,
and the accumulated wisdom of our whole Tradition.
At times I will cite Vatican II, and someone will say,
“wait, that’s not what I was told.”
Many understandably think it was all settled years ago.
In fact, there are a lot of open questions—
and, yes, some rethinking going on.
If you’ve heard about these four bishops,
who are at odds with the Church,
but who the pope is trying to bring back into the fold:
that’s a big part of what that’s about.
Our pope—who took part in the Council—
has written at length about how best to understand
the Second Vatican Council in the light of our ancient tradition.
Many think—many were told—that the purpose of the Council
was to set aside what was handed down:
“Out with the old, in with the new.”
That’s a misunderstanding,
but it really is what a lot of people were told, or experienced;
and because it is a wrong understanding, it needs to be corrected.
If you want to know what Pope Benedict is about—there it is.
If you want to know what I’m trying to do—there it is.
One of the trials of any prophet
is that she sees what others do not;
He tells others what no one else says.
It happens when the pope teaches us about contraception,
capital punishment, or remembering the poor;
it happens when you and I speak up for Christ in our daily lives.
To be a member of the Body of Christ is—and always has been—
to be “out of sync” with the world around us.
That’s why they fed us to the lions,
why they chucked us into concentration camps,
and why people shake their heads and say,
“your values don’t fit in our world!”
They are right!
Because the world is passing away, but Christ is eternal!
Every culture and every generation thinks it has all the answers;
followed immediately by another culture or generation
that knows better!
This is where we find ourselves, day by day,
This is the choice, at each moment:
The culture or Christ?