Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oracles and Auguries

The prophet is not the Israelite’s version of the soothsayer… his task is not to report on the events of tomorrow or the next day in order to satisfy human curiosity or the need for security. He shows us the face of God, and is so doing he shows us the path that we have to take. The future of which he speaks reaches far beyond what people seek from soothsayers. He points out the path to the true ‘exodus,’ which consists in this: among all the paths of history, the path to God is the true direction that we must seek and find.

Jesus of Nazareth Part One, 4

Reflection – Remember Y2K? The fuss around the magical changing of the calendar from starting with the number ‘1’ to the number ‘2’? I’m not talking about the Church’s response to the new millennium, the proclamation of the great Jubilee—that was an invitation to contemplate Christ’s face as we recalled 2000 years of his life among us in the Church.
No, I’m remembering all the hysteria around computers, and the apocalyptic scenarios being dictated from heaven to various soi disant seers, which seemed to be rewritten on a regular basis (you would think that voices from heaven would have their act together regarding the apocalypse and wouldn’t need constant recourse to editing…)
And many were taken in by this, many were frightened or impelled to make massive changes in their life because some ‘prophet’ somewhere told them something was going to happen sometime soon. Personally I am aware of at least one marriage that was destroyed by this kind of apocalyptic soothsaying, and the panic it engendered in one half of the marriage.
I don’t recall any of those self-appointed seers apologizing after the year 2000 came and went without serious incident. Maybe they did, and I just didn’t hear about it.
And so we are coming up to the year 2012, and apocalyptic speculations are again rife, at least in some quarters. At least this time it’s more in the New Age circle as opposed to Catholic.
It’s this whole business of wanting to know the future, isn’t it? Wanting security or the inside track by getting the program. This is a deeply human reality: soothsayers, diviners, witches, spiritualists, oracles and auguries of all kinds extend back as far as we have records of human striving to live well in the world.
It’s all about security, I think. And this is why for Christians and Jews, divination has always been strictly forbidden. It’s not just that we are forbidden to know the future—actually there are instances in our sacred story of holy people being given isolated and immediate knowledge about some future event, generally so they could pray or do some charitable deed connected with it.
It’s that we are not meant to seek our security in this… and how we want to! If we can just know how the stock market is going to go… how the Middle East is going to go… how Europe is going to go… how my job and finances are going to go… if we could just know…
No. What we are to know is that we have a Father in heaven who loves us. We have a Lord, Jesus Christ, who is with us to lead us and guide us into the divine life. We have a Spirit poured into our hearts to make this a living reality, a here and now event. Prophecy, as it exists today, is simply and purely to guide us towards this Father, this Lord, and this Spirit acting in the world and in our lives.
We have no other real security, and we never will. All the oracles and soothsayers are liars or failures, as are all the modern secular versions: self-help books with guaranteed results, and all that business of securing our future by controlling our present.
God and God alone makes our life secure, and Jesus offers us the sure and certain path to God, and so to the freedom and peace and joy we long for.

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