“A church without prophets falls into the trap of clericalism. These were the words of Pope Francis during his homily at Mass on Monday morning in the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta. A prophet is someone who listens to the words of God, who reads the spirit of the times, and who knows how to move forward towards the future. True prophets, the Pope said, hold within themselves three different moments: past, present, and future. They keep the promise of God alive, they see the suffering of their people, and they bring us the strength to look ahead.” God looks after his people, the Pope continued, by giving them prophets in the hardest times, in the midst of their worst suffering. But when there is no spirit of prophecy amongst the people of God, we fall into the trap of clericalism.”
Congar said in his book ‘Renewal in the Church.’ that prophets always come from the outside. It is precisely because they come from the outside of the establishment that they see things in a ‘New Light.” It is not accidental that the people who had the least faith were the people who knew Jesus the Best, “Is he not the carpenter son? Do we not know his brothers?” Jesus says, “no prophet is without honor except in his native place.”
In the Didache, a church manual from the early second century, makes several references to prophets. It makes reference to the ability of the established prophet to speak at liturgy.
Irenaeus of Lyons, a second century father of the church wrote, “For this reason does the apostle declare, ‘we speak wisdom among the mature’ terming those person ‘mature’ who have received the Spirit of God and through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he himself spoke. In this manner we do also hear many brothers in the Church who possess prophetic gifts, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men.”
In the early church there was an office of prophet. Maybe the Holy Spirit is renewing this office in the Church?