This Advent the lectionary includes some of the most beautiful prophetic passages from Isaiah:
"They'll turn their swords into shovels, their spears into hoes. No more will nation fight nation; they won't play war anymore." (Isaiah 2, MSG)
"The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them." (Isaiah 11, MSG)
"Wilderness and desert will sing joyously..like the crocus in spring, bursting into blossom, a symphony of song and color." (Isaiah 35, MSG)
I love these passages because of their prophetic imagination, using metaphors to remind us that there is an alternative way to the warfare, violence, and desolation that we often come to believe is the only way in this world.
I wonder if the Church has lost its prophetic voice, or even our understanding of what it is. Since the latest Bishops' Statement on the War in Iraq, once again there are voices that say the bishops in particular have no right to a prophetic voice. (I am not criticizing the points made by some who disagree with aspects of the statement; just those who believe the bishops or the Church should have no voice at all.)
Perhaps we have all lost a sense of what the prophetic voice is and when and who has it. What is a prophetic voice? Who has it? What does it comprise, not just on matters of the war, but in general?