Daily Reflection
July 26th, 2004
Luis Rodriguez, S.J.
Chaplain, Creighton University Medical Center
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Jeremiah 13:1-11

Deuteronomy 32:18-19, 20, 21

Matthew 13:31-35

Almost two years ago I wrote a reflection on Luke’s parallel presentation of precisely these two parables and so, although they lend themselves to a repeated reflection, this time I will focus on the first reading. As that reading shows, it is not rare that the prophetic message is conveyed using as a vehicle some action or gesture, instead of words. Hosea and  Ezekiel are perhaps the most  clear examples of that, but today it is Jeremiah’s turn to act prophetically.

Some times it is the people observing such action that ask the prophet for an explanation: “Will you not tell us what your actions mean?” [Ez. 11:8-9] Here by contrast it is the Lord who volunteers meaning to the prophet himself, not to the people for whom the action is ultimately intended. Amazingly enough the prophet is not aware of the prophetic meaning of what he is doing at Yahweh’s command and it is Yahweh who both  chooses the action and declares its meaning.

In my own experience I seem to recognize yet another mode of prophetic action. The meaning of what I do is not revealed to me by God, nor do observers ask me what my way of acting means. It is rather that, without my being aware myself that what I do may have prophetic impact, at times the Lord seems to lead others to discover in whatever it was I did a meaning that is instructive for them and helpful at that moment.

Whether we like it or not, our actions convey some meaning to others. For better or worse we end up being role models for others irrespective of our intending or wanting to be so. Some time ago basketball star Charles Barkley was reminded by a teammate that they were role models for many. Charles responded almost angrily: “I don’t want to be a role model”, to which his teammate replied: “Charles, you don’t have a choice. We are that for many youngsters.” We may not have the wide audience that Charles Barkley had, but what we do is almost always observed by some. Our choice is not whether to be role models, but only what kind of role models we are going to be. Or for that matter what kind of prophetic —or unprophetic— message our living will convey.


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