March 21, 2022
Monday of the Third Week of Lent
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
So many times, I hear that Jesus’ message was easy for the people. He talks about a loving God as “Abba” or “Daddy”.
As clergy, when we stand up here and here and preach – too many expect us to just feed you pablum or some easily digested message. That is not what we are called to do.
Today’s Gospel is a prime example of what Jesus was best at – giving us a hard lesson. He wants to wake us up from our comfortable place. We hear too often those soft messages because – well, who wants to make people upset? Well, Jesus did.
If I love you – I have to be willing to tell you things you don’t really want to hear. I must be willing to say what will upset you. Not to be mean or upset you. But, rather, to help you. As a reminder, when we preach, we are preaching to ourselves. I came from the pews where you sit.
I listen to the Holy Spirit because I feel blessed in having a special relationship with the Holy Spirit. I am the mouthpiece. I haven’t always had a smooth relationship, but it has always been a rewarding relationship.
Jesus was willing to say hard things because he loved the people. Even if he had to say that the Syrian’s were more worthy of God’s love at times – even if we must realize that God isn’t just for the Christians. If we preach – as Jesus did – we must be willing to say what is hard to hear.
At least that’s what I heard Him say…