Homily for Mass – Deschatelets Residence
Monday 12 March 2012 – 7.30am
[Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-15; Ps 42; Lk 4:24-30]
The First Reading today is full of suspicion and prejudice. When Naaman arrives with a letter from the King of Aram, the King of Israel thinks a quarrel is being picked with him. When Naaman comes to Elisha’s house and the prophet doesn’t meet with him personally, he flies into a rage because this is not the sort of treatment he’d been expecting. He throws in a little racial prejudice when he asserts that surely the rivers of Damascus are better than all the waters of Israel?
Naaman’s reaction to the prophet Elisha reminds me of a story from the life of the newly canonized Canadian Saint, Brother Andre, known as a powerful intercessor for the sick. A woman who couldn’t walk was carried in to see Brother Andre one day as he received people. He said a few words to her and sent her on her way. She was fairly grieved that he’d dismissed her so soon, and she got up and stormed out of the room. It was only once she was outside that she realized she’d walked out of the room, and hadn’t been carried.
In the Gospel Jesus speaks to the people of Nazareth of the prejudice that doesn’t accept a prophet in the prophet’s hometown. Jesus didn’t need any proof of the truth of what he’d said, but he sure got a good example when his fellow citizens of Nazareth display their prejudice of local prophets and also fly into a rage and try to hurl him off a cliff.
We all know how easy it is to succumb to suspicion: we suspect the motives of those around us. Why did he do that? Why did she say that? We presume all too readily to know the answers. Prejudice is never too far away either. We develop an opinion of another person, and then everything they do or say is judged – in our mind – based on our prejudice.
Perhaps one invitation of the Lenten season is to try to set aside some of our own suspicions and prejudices; to try to develop a stance that is more open to the action of the Holy Spirit through those around us; a stance that is open to the suggestions of those who formerly we judged incapable of good suggestions; a stance that isn’t so quick to think that someone has ill-will towards us; a stance that is open to the fact that God works in the ways God chooses to work, and not in the ways that we’ve decided God will work; a stance that is more open to accepting that the Spirit is trying to prompt us in what we consider to be unlikely ways and in unlikely people.
May the Lord help us this Lent to become more open, more accepting, of the many and unexpected ways that God wishes to reach out to us each day.