Unfortunately, Christianity is weighed down by the image of it being  a ‘sensible’ religion. Rational people who wear sensible clothes, drive nice cars, make prudent decisions and attend ordinary church services.

But if we look in the old testament, we find that the prophets were anything but normal. They didn’t give carefully crafted homilies that were designed to make people feel nice. Sometimes they didn’t even preach at all because God asked them to do something that would be prophetic. Jeremiah was asked to put his underwear into a cave next to a river (Jer 13), Ezekiel was asked to lie on his side for three hundred and ninety days (Ezek 4), Hosea was asked to marry a prostitute (Hosea 1): this is definitely not  nice, safe, prudent and rational.

Why did God ask the prophets to perform these prophetic actions? Perhaps because we live in a world that is tired of listening but loves to gossip. When Jeremiah broke the earthenware vessel in the presence of the Leaders of Judah (Jer 19), the story would have spread like wild-fire throughout the whole country. But if he chose instead to give a nice little sermon, everyone would have fallen asleep.

Jesus calls us to be prophetic, and to do this primarily through our actions. The whole life of the Christian is meant to be a ‘prophetic action’. This is why he calls us to do dramatic things that are not rational and safe; such as giving all of our money to the poor (Lk 12:33), giving our coat to the person who tries to steal our shirt (Lk 6:29), or inviting the poor and the lame for dinner (Lk 14:13). These simple actions are not normal and definitely not sensible, which is why they are so powerful. Even when they are done in secret, the story eventually gets out and as soon as people hear of these prophetic actions, they are challenged to look at reality in a different way.

So the next time you make plans for dinner, or prepare your household budget, stop and think about what sort of homily you are preaching with this action.