During the moratorium on blogging because of Katy’s visit last week, I managed to read two books. It seems that writing takes a certain amount of reflection and work, as compared to reading which just involves picking up a book and having a few spare minutes. Both of the books I read were by Matthew Kelly, and it is the first of these, Words from God, that I’d like to talk about. I found two copies of Words from God in my library and did not even know I possessed them. One of them had been all marked up (by me) so I had obviously read it before. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could remember all we’ve read in the past?) Anyway, I read it again, and again found it worth investing the time.

Kelly, who turns 35 today, is originally from Sidney, Australia, and has lectured in over 50 countries and in all of our 50 states. He is known around the world for his writings, including his New York Times best seller, The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose. In 1993 Matthew was saying his evening prayers, seeking God’s will for his life. As he got into bed and reached for his walkman, he felt moved to put it away. He writes:

I felt God wanted to speak to me. So kneeling there in my bedroom I said, “I am listening.” All in an instant, I heard what I now know to be the voice of God the Father, speak to me. Over the three months following that evening the contents of this book have been dictated to me by God the Father, Jesus and Mary, with the never failing assistance of the Holy Spirit.

I am more inclined to believe Matthew was hearing from God simply because I have personal friends who also have the gift of prophecy. Prophecy simply means ‘words from God.’ It may be about the future but more often seems intended to exhort, inspire, encourage, or perhaps just to help us understand that God is alive and well and cares.

It was unsettling the first time I heard Betty speak up loudly from her pew during a healing mass with a message from God but it has happened often since with people I know who are unlikely to be trying to deceive. There was the time when Mary E. had her first prophecy at a home prayer meeting, only a few sentences, something about oil. Who would make up a message from God about oil?

I find that knowing some modern prophets personally helps one to believe in the prophets of old. The Nicene creed, the most widely accepted statement of Christian faith, reads:

I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

No doubt those Old Testament prophets were vetted in the same way as the current ones. We judge first the prophet, then the prophecy. What manner of man (or woman) is it who is claiming to have heard from God? What is his character, his reputation, his works, his fruits? In other words, is he usually worthy of belief or does he have some agenda?

Second, we judge the words of the prophecy itself. Jesus himself endorsed the Old Testament in Luke 24:25-27, 44-47, and the New Testament prophetically in John 14:26. He said in Matthew 4:17-20:

Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven….

Are the words of this new prophecy consistent with what God has said before? No Christian is obliged to accept as from God any modern prophecy (or, for that matter, any modern apparition, even the ones approved by the Church), only the Bible itself.

The last entry in Matthew Kelly’s book, dated 7th July 1993, reads in part:

The only way to prepare for these end times is by personal sanctification. You must all aim to be saints. This is My will for each and everyone of you……I am the Lord your God, I come to you out of My infinite mercy in these words, but before long I will come to you out of My infinite justice through natural disasters worse than those ever experienced. Now is the time to respond, My children.

Do I believe there are prophets among us in these modern days? I certainly do. Matthew Kelly may well be one.

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To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes (I Corinthians 12: 3-11).