Monday - Third Week of Lent
March 5, 2018
Today’s readings talk about prophets. Sent by God to bring His word to their people, the prophets don’t find a receptive audience at home, it seems. “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place,” Jesus tells the people of Nazareth. In verse 22, they expressed their skepticism at his teachings, saying, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” In other words, “We knew this kid when he was growing up. He’s just an ordinary guy.”
Jesus goes on to remind them that the prophet Elisha was sent to cure Naaman the Syrian, “a mighty man in valor,” as the Old Testament tells us in 2 Kings 5. Of all lepers in the land, only Naaman was cleansed, Jesus said. But Naaman’s reaction was anger when the prophet told him to go wash in the River Jordan. He wanted a much fancier ritual, befitting his status.
The readings make me wonder: Who are the prophets of today? Who among us is bringing the word of God, maybe just for our ears only? Who is truly inspired by God but ignored because she or he is not the messenger we expected, bearing the message we like to hear.
Examples of prophets we have ignored abound. I think of Martin Luther King Jr., who preached equality and was murdered for it. “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” he said. Bobby Kennedy, a rich man who learned about poverty in the American South, was also assassinated in 1968, 50 years ago this year. Alice Paul, who wrote the Equal Rights Amendment and worked for it her whole life, did not live to see it enacted.
When Jesus reminded his neighbors about Naaman, they reacted with violence. They threw him out of town. I pray (as I always need to do!) for patience to listen to the voices of those around me, right here in my town, and for the understanding to pick out the true prophets from the cacophony of noise. Help me find the wisdom I need, Lord.
St. Anthony Parishioner (and Bible Study participant, St. Anthony representative to Quad Cities Interfaith)