Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Prophecy and Gift


During the holy season of Advent Christians, but especially Catholics, are reminded of the role of prophecy in faith as we read or hear many of the daily readings that are taken from the prophecy of Isaiah. Prophecy has a multi-faceted role for people of faith. One dimension of prophecy’s function is to foretell of things that are to happen in the future, but another is to ask the believer if the tenets of faith have been forgotten, put aside, or intentionally ignored when evidence suggests that these precepts are not a part of the believer’s life.

During Advent, we Christians often hear readings from Isaiah’s prophecy, and the several functions of prophecy come into play. Thus, we are reminded of the coming of Christ. But why should this happen? The answer is clear to the believer: because I have sinned—I have turned intentionally from God and what He has asked of me. But there is hope for rectification of this. And this is where the dimension of gift comes into play.

Christ is the gift of God Himself for the remission of sins and for the salvation of many—the many who hear the voice of the prophet and acknowledge that there is something amiss in one’s life because the believer has turned from God and His ways. In essence, the Giver is the gift because as Saint John’s Gospel reminds us, God so loved that world that He gave His only son so that we might live with God forever.

As we progress through Christmastide, we are continuously reminded of this inextricably related prophecy and gift. We are also simultaneously reminded of the many gifts we have received in our lives, in spite of the disappointments and difficulties which confront us, and the need to thank God and the many kind people He sends our way to help shoulder the burdens of disappointment and difficulty.

In this regard I thank the many kind people who have written to me informing me of their prayers in view of the health complications which I have been facing—lymphoma and its metastasizing in the central nervous system. But even in this difficulty I find the reminder of prophecy and gift and take hope knowing that both apply to me, too, if I take the time to acknowledge this. Of course, we all face the same destiny in our human existence: this life will assuredly come to an end so that the eternal one may begin. I have come to realize that my own recognition of this inevitable and universal human destiny has a bearing on what each one of us who are believers does in his or her earthly life. In this regard, I pray that God will offer me some time to attempt to offer a few simple and humble thoughts that have a bearing on what we at the Mirror of Justice do in our human lives as teachers and as promoters/developers of Catholic legal theory. Of course, it probably need not be said, but I shall say it nevertheless: these two earthly tasks have a relationship with God’s prophecy and the gift that He has given us.

A blessed and joyous Christmastide to you all.


RJA sj



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