A common theme within the Scriptures that we've spoken about before is Our Lord's call to all Christians to proclaim the Good News of salvation that Jesus revealed. We see it repeatedly throughout the Gospels, including today's reading from the Gospel of Mark. A question that we don't often think about is “why?” Why would we want to be open about our faith and preach it to others? Why allow our faith to influence our daily lives? Why can't we live our lives the way we want, so long as we come to Church once a week?
I think many of us feel like the prophet Amos. He just wanted to live a simple life as a shepherd, and had no desire to to be a prophet. He just wanted to be a simple man doing a simple job. God had other plans for his life, and Amos followed God's plans instead of his own. This doesn't mean that Amos lived the easy life. On the contrary, things didn't fall into his lap, and people didn't run to follow him. In fact, we see in today's first reading that he was even attacked for his prophecy by a priest, by one who should know better.
When we follow God's will, life may become more difficult, and we may be attacked for what we say and do. In response, many will say, “No thanks!”, and understandably so. No one wants to seek the difficult path in life. So, again, why would we want to proclaim our faith to the world?
We proclaim our faith, because it is what we were baptized to do. When we were baptized, the priest poured Sacred Chrism on our heads, declaring that Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king. As members of the Body of Christ, the Church, we also share in those roles within the world. Just as Christ was anointed to be a prophet, we also are anointed to be prophets.
As Christians, we do not prophesy the same ways the Old Testament prophets did. They would often go throughout the countryside proclaiming what God revealed to them, confronting those who would ignore God's call to conversion. A familiar example is Jonah, who walked through Nineveh declaring, “Forty days more, and Nineveh will be destroyed.” We see that as well with Amos in today's reading, as he got into a confrontation with the priest in Bethel over the prophecy that Amos was proclaiming.
Our role as prophets is to allow our words and actions to proclaim the Gospel. If we live our lives allowing the commandments of Our Lord to shine through us, we will be prophesying to a world that has largely turned away from those commandments. If we are proud of being disciples of Jesus, we will be quick to defend His Church against those who attack Her and misrepresent Her teachings. As prophets, we must always strive for our words and actions to match what Our Lord commands of us, and allow our example to speak for us.
Again, the question arises, “Why would I want to be a prophet for Christ? It sounds like a lot of trouble for little reward.” From an earthly sense, yes that's true. There is very little earthly reward for being a Christian prophet. You won't become rich, you probably won't become famous, and you definitely won't be the most popular person in the world.
We want to be a prophet of Christ for heavenly rewards and not for earthly ones. St. Paul shows us the great rewards we have already received by becoming members of the Body of Christ. We have been adopted as God's sons and daughters, and are able to share in the inheritance of eternal life. In a matter of speaking, our lives have been ransomed from the power of death by the shedding of Our Lord's blood on the Cross. We no longer have to fear death, but can rejoice in the hope of eternal life. Our sins no longer have to weigh us down, but we can receive forgiveness and new hope. We've even received the Holy Spirit, which St. Paul tells us “is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption.”
With all these great rewards, why would we not want to proclaim the Good News of salvation?