The first reading today gives us a short but enlightening history of prophecy in Israel. Deuteronomy 18 speaks of the sentiments of the people to whom the Lord speaks. The people are not ready to speak to God face to face, for fear that they will perish. They were also afraid of directly hearing the divine voice or the great marvelous works of God. Instead, they begged God to send a mediator, a middleman, a spokesman. That man is the prophet.

Israel had many prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Though they carried God’s words to the people, they suffered horribly from unbelieving and stubborn hearts. Often the people listened selectively to the message that suited them most. They ignored and even persecuted the prophets who spoke of the hard, painful truth.

Isaiah 42 also speaks of the ideal prophet, his tasks, his responsibilities and his burdens. This history of prophecy will find its pinnacle in Jesus, the greatest proclaimer of God’s word. In the person of Jesus, though, the voice is the message, for he was not a mere spokesman. Jesus is the Son of God and the very message of the Father. In his words, his actions, and his very life, the mercy and compassion of the Father are felt. By his words, the power and authority of God (see gospel) become present in the world.

It is a great challenge to identify the prophet in our midst today. There is a superabundance of words in the media, in the internet, in politics, and in the church. Before we had news, today we have fake news. Before we had truth, today we have gossip and insinuations. Before we had facts, today we have mere sentimentality.

In the midst of all these, the Lord continues to speak to us. Discover him in the silence of Bible-reading. Open your heart to him in the simplicity and routine of the Eucharist. Feel him in the events of daily life and in your interactions with people who share with you God’s grace and blessings.

The voice of God is not silent. The word of God is not dead. On the contrary, Jesus the Prophet and very Word of God is alive in this world that desires more meaning. In following the Lord, you too can become the prophet the world needs today.