February 29, 2016
Monday of the Third Week of Lent.
The good news for the Day
To His synagogue congregation at Nazareth Jesus said: “The truth, honestly, is this: no prophet is accepted in his own place, I remind you, in the days of Elijah when a drought lasted for three and a half years there was many a widow inside Israel—and a terrible famine devastated the whole country. It was to none of the Israelite widows that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath, way over in Sidon. Again, there was many a leper in Israel during the days of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only the Syrian Naaman.” (Luke 24)
This Gospel offers a curious update—Syria. Syria is not just in the Gospel and Israelite history—but it’s on the front page of today’s newspaper. The same Syria then exists today. That same war-torn Damascus you read about hosted St. Paul.
While a few Christians still live there, you and I tend to see Syria as a place of “them,” of Arab and Muslims, of people clearly, definitely not “us”—but “them”—dangerous foreigners We feel fearful, hostile, distant about “them”—armed militia as well as families of poor refugees. Yet they embody the kind of person you, a prophet, are called to help and heal.
As a prophet, your task as the living Good News is to spread remedies to everybody—the shunned addict, lonely advocates hungering and thirsting for justice, people open to increasing hope and faith, and those imprisoned and shut off by all kinds of walls. Your Nazareth comes as you meet friends and family who are the set-in-their-ways persons around you, unwilling to love, reluctant to hope, defiant of change, and sick in their self-confidence. These do not want you—nor any help to change. They are corpses.
You offer change and growth—a living faith. Your prophetic truth offers Good News to everybody—helping all be healed of misery and restraint. Your family and friends may resist; more accepting, often, are “them.”