By Fr. Anthony Aneke
The above theme informs the key reflection at the Enugu Diocesan Priests’ Lenten Recollection/seminar on the Year of St. Joseph delivered by Fr. Joseph Ezechi at Ugwu di Nso Pastoral/Catechetical Centre on 8th March 2021.
Reflecting on this theme, Fr. Ezechi maintains that St. Joseph the silent prophet is not only a contradiction to our preconceived notion of the identity of a prophet who will always speak out but also to a world saturated with noise and distractions in all ramifications. For Fr. Ezechi, St. Joseph should be the model for pastors who wants to overthrow the tyranny of noise in their pastoral ministry.
Debunking the myth of St. Joseph as an old reserved Jewish man betrothed to the young Mary, Fr. Ezechi portrayed that St. Joseph makes his mark silently by living the virtues of the New Testament even before Christ came. St. Joseph never uttered a word in the scriptures yet he did a lot in sharing the secret of God’s mercies. St. Joseph is interested in doing not saying.
Emphasizing on the identity and role of the prophet as the mouthpiece of a deity, a spokesman, called and appointed by the deity with a specific mission, Fr. Ezechi showed that beyond our normal description of the categories of prophets in the scriptures as (FORMER and LATER PROPHETS) & (MAJOR and MINOR PROPHETS), there is yet another distinction which is SPEECH-BASED PROPHETS AND ACTION-BASED PROPHETS. While vocality is a distinctive feature of the speech-based prophets like Moses, Elijah, Elisha and others, action is unique feature of the action-based prophet. Prophets like Abraham and St. Joseph fall into this category
It seems to me that the identity and mission of the action-based prophet seems to be buttressed more in the works of the French theologian Yves Congar. For him, a prophet dedicates himself or herself to completing the demands made on him or her by God. The prophet is distinguished by being fully committed to his or her mission irrespective of the obstacle they encounter. In this way prophet shines forth the truth of God first by his or her lifestyles which alone can illumine the complexities of history. Therefore, Prophecy may not simply be words but counter-cultural deeds which contradict the decay in society. Prophecy is word and deed which reflect authentically the word God to people and the will God and the direction to attaining the value and virtue of the kingdom of God, the reign of peace, prosperity, righteousness and good order. From the perspective of biblical teaching, the entire baptized are called to be prophetic.
Fr. Ezechi maintains that the world needs more action-based prophets than speech-based prophets. He further enjoins pastors to embrace the virtues of St. Joseph as the silent prophet especially in our pastoral ministry that seems bastardized by noise making and unnecessary sensation.