Have you ever been in a situation where you saw an injustice happening and felt you just had to say or do something? Perhaps, at that moment, God was calling you to be his voice. And perhaps now God is calling you to be a prophet in your own life—after all, a prophet is merely a spokesperson for God. The great thing about being a prophet is that you truly see yourself as an instrument. God uses you to bring voice to a situation that needs his attention. The hard part shouldn't be accepting the call. The hard part should be denying the call—and ignoring the world's need.
The Advent readings allow us the opportunity to listen to a number of the prophets in our sacred Scripture. The First Sunday of Advent began with a reading from the prophet Isaiah: "Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain... that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may walk in his paths." (Is 2:3)
On the Second Sunday of Advent, Isaiah reassures us that the Savior shall not judge by appearance, "nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice..." (Is 11:3-4)
Throughout this season also listen to the words of Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Malachi and others. Jeremiah reminds us that "the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land." (Jer 23:5) And Malachi tells us that God is "sending my messenger to prepare the way before me." (Mal 3:1)
These readings have truly spoken to me as I've reflected on recent experiences I've had. In Father Bryan Massingale's address to a conference of vocation directors, he stated, "We don't need numbers to enter the religious life, but we do need witnesses." While I was visiting a Glenmary mission in Eastern Kentucky, a parishioner told me, "Glenmary doesn't need men who are interested in just being priests or brothers, but Glenmary needs more prophets." Glenmary Father Jim Kelly reminded me that we can't expect a candidate to be a prophet when he enters Glenmary—however, it is a role that "each one of us can hopefully grow into."
I think that Glenmary's founder, Father William Howard Bishop, was a prophet who called the Church to recognize and serve people's needs in Mission Land USA. He mapped out "No Priest Land USA" and began preaching and praying incessantly for the Church to recognize the extreme need to serve the missions right here in our own backyard. His words, actions and dedication inspired many other men to enter Glenmary—to respond to that call to serve with him in the home mission lands and become prophets.
Today, Glenmary's prophetic voice continues to cry out for justice, and it invites other voices to join in the chorus. In the southern United States alone, there are still more than 300 counties without a Catholic priest, brother or Catholic presence. In most of these mission areas, the poverty level is more than twice the national average.
Glenmary is looking for a few good men, prophets-to-be, who are called to go to a strange land in order to share the sacraments, struggle for worker rights, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the ill, visit the incarcerated, and stand up against the destruction of nature.
In the words of our founder in an article published in 1937, "There is a mission field much nearer our homes...that should command our attention not only from a motive of Christian charity but I dare to say from a motive of common justice."
As you reflect on your call to serve as a missioner and prophet, be sure to read some or all of a master's thesis on the charism of Father Bishop written by Glenmary Father Dan Dorsey.