Summary: Using the accont of Jeremiah’s call explore the role of the prophet in a community of faith and points to Christ as the incarnation of Yahwehs prophetic Word.

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Appropriating the Prophetic Word

The 21th Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 26, 2001

The Profit of a Prophet (To Uproot and Tear Down; To Build and Plant)

Jeremiah 1:4-10

4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." 6 "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." 7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, `I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD. 9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant."


It was approximately 125 A. D. when a Christian philosopher named Aristides penned his Apology to the Roman emperor Hadrian on the occasion of his visit to Athens. In this work, Aristides confronts Hadrian with the news that the human family has divided itself into four categories: Greeks, barbarians, Jews and Christians. This was quite a claim given that Christianity was less than 100 years old. His categories suggest that Christianity was such a radical departure from manner of living practiced and observed by everyone else at the time that it represented an entirely new way of being human.

Christian conversion represents a personal, relational, ethical, and cognitive revolution in the person who converts. The Christian faith represents a different worldview and a different manner of thinking about God and everything else in this world which he has made. In short, Christian conversion means literally becoming a new person - remade in the image and likeness of Christ.

It doesn’t end there, however. Authentic Christian conversion has a social and cultural dimension as well. The first Christians had no thought of bedding down, comfortable and content with their own religious awakening. Far from it, they scattered to the four winds from the upper room in Jerusalem where their community had been born. When plagues and famine fell upon Roman cities causing the rich and elite to flee, Christians stayed behind and cared for the sick and the starving and the dying. Though they were persecuted viciously by nearly everyone and martyred at every turn, the community grew until Christianity quite literally transformed the known world of the day.

This is the nature of Christian conversion. Far from being merely a placid, saccharine change of religious sentiment, once the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus enters the human heart, nothing can ever be the same. Life breaks out in astounding ways and alters everything in its path, revolutionizing and recreating human lives, society, and culture, until the very kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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