Prophets of a future not our own

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the
magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference
between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.

Written by Fr. Ken Untener (later Bishop Untener, bishop of Saginaw) for John Cardinal Dearden; given by John Cardinal Dearden as a homily at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Detroit, October 25, 1979.


Life has changed rapidly in a short couple of weeks in what amounts to a form of collective trauma. I have watched friends graciously postpone wedding plans, lose what they had been working towards, and process the sudden end of degree courses – among other things.

There are so many things to say, so many facets of such an experience to explore and to grieve. The coronavirus pandemic has made evident what we are usually blessed to be able to ignore. Life is fragile, uncertain and painful; it is not our own to control.

I really like the words above. They acknowledge that though we do not see, know, meet, or encounter the whole, there is still something for us to do: we are prophets of a future not our own.

Prayers and love to all at this time of uncertainty. May you find the space you need to process, a beauty and grace which comforts, and courage to plant the seeds that one day will grow.