The Mass readings for a recent Sunday included the passage in Jeremiah 20:7-9 in which the prophet complains that speaking the word of God has brought him nothing but trouble, but he has to keep doing it. I’ve felt that way a lot lately. I feel like I am in the middle of a sinking, decaying country where people who think that they follow Jesus have been tricked into advocating a radical selfishness totally at odds with the plain sense of the Scriptures. The people who are advocating the preferential option for the poor show no respect for the life of the unborn, and scant regard for the elderly near death. But it is to the Christians of the so-called Religious Right that I am beginning to feel called to prophesy.
Yes, prophesy. I have a feeling growing within me that this is the word of God for America: to paraphrase the prophet Jonah, “Forty years more, and America will be destroyed.” Actually I think the number will be more like twenty-something. The full prophecy is this:
Unless my people abandon the culture of selfishness that they have built up, that selfishness will completely destroy their country with all the freedoms they have professed to love.
I have been saying that this country is in dire trouble for some time now, in this blog and in conversation. I get little respect from anyone. Younger people roll their eyes, politely implying that “you old f**ts always predict doom and gloom.” The elders, especially the Religious Right folks, roll their eyes because they are serenely confident that America is God’s chosen country. Even more than the Pope, the USA is infallible, preserved from any serious error. So Jeremiah’s words this morning sounded familiar. Yeah, pal, been there.
As a charismatic Catholic, I know a little about prophecy. It is not, most emphatically, about predicting the future. It is speaking a word of the Lord to His people. I’ve had the experience before, in a much more limited context. Is this a risky gift to exercise? Is there a major danger that this is merely egomania running free? You bet your sweet patootie it is. But here I am, predicting the future and risking scorn and derision. Maybe the Lord is in it, or maybe I’m making a jackass out of myself.
So what are my reasons for thinking that God, Lord of the Universe, has chosen me as His prophet? Nothing that other people will find irrefutable. There’s the test of Moses, from Deuteronomy 18:18-22. If the USA is still a truly democratic, stable and just country in 2051, then I was full of you-know-what and will no doubt be receiving what I deserve. (Unless Jesus accepts my groveling apology. But this won’t be all that high on my list of sins.) There’s also the Jeremiah test, from the passage above. I keep speaking it, even when it gains me nothing but differing degrees of scorn. Finally, and least convincing, I am just dead certain that this country is headed for a disaster and the people who should be sounding the loudest alarms are instead speeding up the process.
And that is what I feel must be said. People who should know that the love of money is the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10) are instead cheerfully supporting policies that permit, or even encourage, unrestricted greed and selfishness, as somehow magically good for our country. This despite plenty of historical evidence that St. Paul was right. That is rather frustrating; for the people I want to get through to, an appeal to historical evidence should not be necessary. Aren’t you God’s people? Then why do you ignore His Word?
A prophecy, especially a public prophecy, is an exhortation to do right. And so I plead with my fellow Christians: Heed the word of the Lord which I have spoken to you this day. I am not threatening or predicting Divine intervention, with plagues and lightning and such. No, even now the sin is making its own punishment.