I live in Washington, DC, and I work in Maryland. Every day I spend a good long hour on the bus to travel a mere 30 miles (traffic is awesome). And every once in a while – probably once a week or so – we have a preacher on the bus. Sometimes it is a man. Sometimes a woman. Sometimes they preach in Spanish. Sometimes in English. Sometimes they stand up front and command the attention of the whole bus. Sometimes they sit in the back so you can only hear them – because no one would dare to look back to see them.
While these preachers preach, the other riders have mixed reactions: frustration, embarrassment, fear, apathy, humor, etc. However, generally they share one common thought: “This person is crazy.” I have to admit, I have shared that though on more than one occasion when one woman went on and on about how television had ruined her life. But after observing these weekly sermons, I began to wonder if they really were giving us messages of the truth. I mean, throughout our Christian tradition, we have people who were regarded as wacko in their time but who we now revere as saints and prophets. Like St. Catherine of Siena – in today’s lingo, St. Catherine would have been considered as anorexic and a self-mutilator. Surely, that would have warranted at least a long hospital stay.
There are tons of folks who are regarded as crazy for their ideas in today’s world – Jimmy Carter, the woman who has slept in front of the White House for over 20 years to promote a free Palestine, Ralph Nader, Dorothy Day…the list goes on and on. Are these people modern day prophets? Could the bus ride preachers be prophets? Learning from history, I suppose it will only be after long their life on Earth has ended that the wider world will recognize them as prophets. However, wouldn’t be great if those true prophets were honored during their lifetime?