Daily Reflection
November 19th, 2004
Roc O'Connor, S.J.
Theology & Campus Ministry
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Does the spirit of prophecy come from a sour stomach?  It would seem so, if we follow the reading from the Book of Revelation.  What's your experience?

It is a delight to take delight in the promises and the blessings of God in the Word.  Notice the stanzas from Psalm 119 for today's Mass:

The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
R. How sweet to my taste is your promise!
How sweet to my palate are your promises,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Now, John was told to prophecy only after his experience of the sweetness of the Word of God, which he consumed, and after his stomach went sour.  (What would he have done if he would have had the Purple Pill?  Did I get that reference right?)

At this point, let's stop to look at that word that is translated, "sour."  The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, p. 202 defines the Greek word, pikraino, as "to make bitter, to embitter."  Concerning John in this passage, it says further, "The image suggests the anguish caused him by the prophetic message."

Now, the adjectival form of the verb, pikros, "bitter," is found in Matthew 26 and Luke 22, where Peter admits his denial of Jesus and "wept bitterly."  The dictionary claims that its use as a noun in the Classical world of Greek literature, "regularly denotes the bitterness associated with grief, disappointment, hate and anger."

Sorry to make this a study session, but I do think it has something to say about the times we live in.  For example, I wonder if the sour stomach, the disappointment, of the prophet has to his / her eyes being opened by the Word of God, recently consumed.  The person sees life without blinders and "weeps bitterly."

I wonder if we are entering a new age of prophecy, one that will be confusing.  Consider the bitterness of those whose candidate just lost the presidential election.  Might that not fuel a sort of prophetic discourse in and of itself?  Consider the disappointment and anger of many that has already been the basis of the enthusiasm that re-elected their candidate.  Might that not give rise to a sort of prophecy?

Our times call for a new depth of discernment about the adequacy of each of these forms of prophecy.  But, might there not be another, a third form of prophecy, based upon the grief and disappointment that many of us feel at the incredible rancor within our Church and nation?  Perhaps this form of prophecy would call for, stand for, and suffer for reconciliation.

Where do we go from here?  O God, show us  your way.

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