In the reading from Acts, we see the beginning of the first of three missionary journeys that Paul the Apostle will undertake. Paul (he is still called Saul at this time) and Barnabas had just returned from Jerusalem where they had brought relief supplies for the Jerusalem community suffering from a famine. Such support for others in need is an essential element of our Christian vocation.
They had returned to Antioch where we hear about prophets and teachers. Prophets were not fortune tellers, but people sensitive to the presence of God in prayer, worship and daily life. They helped interpret God’s desires for the Christian community. Teachers were those gifted in the ability to faithfully pass on the traditions of the Christian community and to instruct others about Scripture. These two roles are indispensable to the life of the Church.
As we continue to give thanks to God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we might also want to give thanks to the prophets and teachers who have helped us understand Scripture, revealed to us new methods of deeper prayer, encouraged us to be faithful, guided us with their wisdom, showed us effective ways to be sensitive to God’s presence in our life, reminded us of our true vocation as Christians and in times of confusion pointed us in the right direction. We might not have called them "Prophets" or "Teachers." Maybe we called them mother or father, brother or sister, uncle or cousin, friend or co-worker, pastor or associate, author or preacher. By whatever name we called them, they were God’s way of reaching out to us.
Who are the "Prophets" and "Teachers" in your life? Do you "see" – like Jesus in the Gospel reading today – God’s active and loving presence in your life? Let us thank God for these special people.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.