Media and Communications
In the second edition of the Christian Leadership Series 2019, hosted by the Archbishop’s Office of Evangelisation, Assoc. Prof. Rev. Mark O’Brien gave a guided lecture on the topic of 'Prophetic Voices' this week.
Assoc. Prof. Rev Mark O’Brien is a member of the Department of Biblical Studies and lectures in Old Testament studies. He is a visiting lecturer at the Yarra Theological Union in Box Hill and is a priest of the Order of Preachers (known as the Dominicans).
In his lecture, Assoc. Prof. Rev. O’Brien guided the Melbourne parishioners who attended the night through the life of a prophet as interpreted from The Book of Jeremiah and began the lecture by reminding everyone about the purpose of prophecy as ‘the prophetic calls always present itself as astounding on, promoting, and interpreting the Torah. Prophets never say anything that contradicts, goes against or adds something absolutely new to the Torah made by the greatest prophet of all, Moses--according to the text.’
‘Torah is prophecy, Prophecy is Torah, Torah is law,’ O’Brien said, where God is referred to as the ‘Just Judge and Merciful Forgiver’.
O’Brien noted that ‘Jeremiah is sometimes presented as a Deuteronomic scholar and prophet’, and compared his role in the Old Testament to that of the apostles in the New Testament who ‘do not claim anything but to proclaim the word of Jesus Christ.’
People in today’s world tend to commonly view the Bible with uniquely distorted views, O'Brien argued, much like the divided Kingdoms of Judah and Jerusalem did with the Torah.
A key point of the night, O'Brien stressed was that as a prophet, one is called to be a mediator of God, not for one’s own satisfaction. And often the fruits of a prophet’s work are celebrated long after their passing, making the relationship of their role as a slave of love to God.
‘And doesn’t this relate to our Christian vocation?’ asked O’Brien rhetorically.
‘We initiate our Christian vocation of discipleship of Jesus who claim, which is what The Book of Jeremiah does for Jeremiah, we claim we are first called for Christ. And so when Jeremiah gets the call to prophesy the message that God tells him, it’s a tough lesson,’ he said.
‘The vocation to be a prophet is not going to be an easy one, so is the case of the Book of Jeremiah that makes it worth thinking about ourselves and our Christian vocation as well.’
He posed the question later during the Q&A session, as to whether we would know if there were a prophet among us in today’s times as they were historically known to be condemned figures in Biblical times.
Welcoming everyone’s interpretation in their own private reflections and study of The Book of Jeremiah, O’Brien offered his own observations of the way Jeremiah is presented in the Old Testament.
He also suggested an overarching theme in the life of a prophet, which is respecting God’s time in God’s time, where the People’s View in Jeremiah 8:15 opposes the Lord’s View in Jeremiah 9:3, again revealing similarities with today’s common perception, as O’Brien mentioned, that ‘God is not listening.’
The evening concluded with a Q&A with those who attended the night.
Next week, Rev. Dr Chris Monaghan cp will lead participants through the Lukan narrative and how the gospel offers a roadmap for what discipleship looks like in today’s age. In the fourth and final week, Dr Rosemary Canavan will explore the clothing imagery employed by St Paul to construct a new sense of Christ-centred identity in the early church.
Registration is still open for single and/or both remaining sessions at https://www.trybooking.com/BBRXJ.