When the gift of prophecy is abused

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE cannot deny that we are now into some very tricky times, when the line between truth and falsehood is blurred if not erased, when men of the cloth can present themselves as prophets to push their own opinion, especially in matters of politics.

Christ already warned us about this. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.” (Mt 7,15-16)

This can happen when, for example, clerics get into partisan politics. They clearly would not be following the teaching and example of Christ who, even if he knew the shenanigans and anomalies in the political world of his time, did not make any definitive stand on a specific political issue.

That’s because, I suppose, Christ knew he would be adding unnecessary division among the people if he would get into partisan politics. Politics is such a complicated area where things can never be black and white, totally right or totally wrong. It’s always grey, since the issues involved are matters of opinion and preferences that can give rise to a variety of different and even conflicting positions of the people.

The mixture of good and evil in politics, benefits and dangers are so intertwined that to separate one from the other would practically be impossible and most likely be more harmful than helpful.

Besides, we cannot stereotype politicians as either purely being of God or purely being of the devil. It’s amazing that given the contingent realities involved in our temporal affairs, like in politics, some clerics can dare to categorize a politician as so good that he can do no wrong, and another politician as so bad that he can do no right.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why Christ talked about the parable of the wheat and the weeds. (cfr. Mt 13,24-30) It would not be wise and prudent, according to the lesson of that parable, to uproot the weeds at the moment since the wheat may also be uprooted. We just have to wait for the harvest, the final reckoning, when the due separation can be made.

In the meantime, we just have to be patient, even as we also should try to purify and clarify things, but done always in a Christian spirit, that is, with charity and cordiality, with willingness to suffer the consequences of evil, without bitterness, anger and the impulse for revenge. Evil should always be countered by good, and never by another evil dressed up as something good.

In distinguishing between the true and false prophets, we have to figure out the spirit behind their claim of their prophetic duty. In this, we have received enough warnings from Sacred Scripture. “Beloved,” St. John, for example, in his first letter tells us, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (4,1)

There are many kinds of spirits roaming around the world, and we have to learn how to discern them. There is the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ as opposed to the antichrist. There is also the evil spirit, and the spirit of the world that is dominated by the evil one. There is also the spirit of the flesh.

It would be good if we are transparent about this business of identifying the kind of spirit we have at the moment. Through constant examinations of conscience, through spiritual direction and other spiritual means, we would know the kind of spirit we have.

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