A Prophet in our Midst

Source: nationalobserver.com

The other day I had to introduce the reading from the minor prophet, Joel. I began by saying that we are all minor prophets by reason of our anointing with the Spirit at baptism, but what is a prophet? A prophet may be said to be like “a voice crying out in the wilderness” (Matthew 3:3), someone who seems to come from nowhere. He has no official status.

A prophet is not sent by a king or by a high priest. A prophet is sent by God to speak truth to power – to kings and priests.

We tend to think of prophets as figures from the biblical past, though occasionally someone like Martin Luther King, Jr. rises up to remind us that prophecy is still alive.

Just the day before, I had listened on Facebook to Greta Thunberg’s TED Talk from Stockholm in 2018 (in flawless English), and it struck me that this tiny teen-aged girl, apparently coming out of nowhere (she had recently crossed the Atlantic on a solar powered sailboat) is in fact not just a minor prophet but a major prophet, someone sent by God to speak truth to power, to the nations – to the United Nations!

I thought of Isaiah 11:6, “… and a little child shall lead them …”, and I thought of all the thousands of children Greta has since inspired to confront those in power, demanding that they address the climate crisis with all its looming consequences and act now before it’s too late.

Greta Thunberg is indeed a prophet, a prophet calling not for hope but for action. When people asked John the Baptist what they should do, he told them in no uncertain terms what they should do (Luke 3:10-14). Greta is telling us in no uncertain terms what we should do. Listen to her. Listen to her talks on Facebook, and then act

Eric Jensen, SJ, works in the Spiritual Exercises ministry at Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario. He also paints and writes. He is the author of Entering Christ's Prayer (Ave Maria Press, 2007)and Ignatius Loyola and You (Novalis 2018).

  • Roger Yaworski, SJ
    Posted at 09:55h, 19 October Reply

    Thanks Eric, clear and to the point as usual.

  • Caroline Maloney
    Posted at 13:20h, 19 October Reply

    Thank you, Fr. Eric, for placing Greta in our tradition of courageous, insightful, inspiring people who indeed “speak truth to power”. Yesterday, in Edmonton at the legislature, “the powerful” ignored her and her message.

  • Charles Pottie - Pâté, sj
    Posted at 21:45h, 19 October Reply

    Yes, indeed, she is a prophet for our time…..despite what the Alberta government’s response is to her.
    thanks for the article.

  • Norbert Piché
    Posted at 09:33h, 21 October Reply

    I’ve had the same thoughts about Greta. Thanks Eric.

  • Laura Sterzer Laycock
    Posted at 13:58h, 30 October Reply

    A friend of mine sent me this link and I am new to this site but I have a different opinion. I have read some things that prove there is no concrete science for mans direct cause of a climate crisis. I have read some stuff about how actual data has been manipulated, misused and misread. Having read that Greta doesn’t write her own speeches and is funded by a movement that is hugely invested in green technology, I tend to think she is a poster child and and a puppet for the powers that stand to profit most from the green movement. That being said, I do believe the climate is changing and that we can all ramp up out efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle. Is the world worth every effort we can make to keep it beautiful and pristine? Absolutely! That is one of our God given directives as stewards of creation. Do we do enough. No we do not. Prophet or puppet? I suppose it depends on how many articles on which side of the debate one reads. But one thing is certain to me. God loves His creatures and His creation far more than we do. And Jesus cane to make all things new. Thanks again.

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