Recently, Oprah hosted Joan Chittister on Super Soul Sunday and Sister Joan discussed her new book, The Time is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage. I found the discussion both enlightening and frightening. She explained most of us in our spiritual practices recognize the “healing Jesus.” The Jesus who cures the sick, raises the dead, feeds the hungry and comforts the people. This is the Jesus we are comfortable with in prayer and petition. However, she explained, there is another Jesus we do not always identify. The “prophetic Jesus” is the man who confronted the Pharisees in the temple, who stood beside the woman who was to be stoned by her community, who risked his own life to spread the truth, the real truth, in the face of those who denounced Him. He spoke truth in opposition to the status quo of his times. The “prophetic Jesus,” she challenged, is the Jesus we most need now in our current times.
I was intrigued by the description of the “prophetic Jesus.” Yet, I was frightened as she explained recognizing and following the “prophetic Jesus” is a sign of a mature Christian. Had I not reached the stage of maturity in my spiritual journey? After all, my journey as an oblate had been both an awakening to my spiritual practices and had brought me to a prayer life exponentially beyond what I could imagine. Yet, Sister Joan seemed to challenge me beyond my comfortable spiritual practices and Benedictine values to another dimension.
What does it mean to be a “prophetic Christian” in today’s world? Frankly, I am still reflecting and praying on this question. I now have Sister Joan’s book and find her written words placing me in a greater zone of discomfort. I do realize with this discomfort, great growth will happen as I discern how the life of the “prophetic Jesus” will play out in my practices. It would be so much easier for me to be appalled at the social injustices in our world in silence and never speak the truth to avoid offending others. Yet, the “prophetic Jesus” did not take an easier path, did he?
The question remains in my mind and heart: “How will I follow the ‘prophetic Jesus’ in my corner of the world?” As Sister Joan reminds me, “One small step at a time.”
Mary Baier, OblSB