The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Monday, March 5, 2018

Homily: Monday of the 3rd Week of Lent

Readings: 2 Kgs 5:1-15; Ps 42; Lk 4:24-30
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How small a God do you believe in?

It's kind of an odd question, isn't it? But it's really the question with which Jesus challenged the people of Nazareth, His hometown.

"...they were all filled with fury...."
When He showed up in the synagogue, they were already upset. They'd heard all about the wondrous things He'd done elsewhere, and wanted Him to do the same in Nazareth. They thought they were special. Jesus, after all, was from Nazareth, and so they deserved special treatment. If Jesus were this great prophet that people were already calling Him, they why hadn't He done anything here in Nazareth?

Of course, there was no thought of conversion, no desire to change their hearts. And repentance? Well, no need for that. No, their demand was all about entitlement, for they were a people wrapped up in themselves. Jesus looked at them and saw no humility, only pride.

And, remarkably, they really exhibited little curiosity about Jesus Himself. Oh, they thought they knew Him, because He had grown up among them. But they could see Jesus only as He used to be, as the child who played in their streets. And now He's a prophet?

Well, Jesus, if you're so great, how about proving it? Yes, they wanted some miracles too. But for the miraculous to engender faith, the heart must be well disposed.

You see, brothers and sisters, the people in that synagogue in Nazareth believed in a very small god, a god of Nazareth, not the God of Creation. In a very real sense they'd tried to create a god in their own image, and such a god must be very small indeed.

How does Jesus respond?
Naaman, healed by obedience not water [2 Kgs 5:1-19]
He reminds them of how God worked wondrous miracles through His prophets Elijah and Elisha... but they were miracles aimed at those beyond the borders of Israel, at Gentiles, not Jews. For God, the true God, is the God of all of His Creation. He certainly isn't a God to whom we can dictate.
Elijah and the widow [1 Kgs 17:9-24]
And so, with His examples from the books of Kings, the King of Kings reproaches His neighbors. His reproach, of course, is an attack on their pride.

And they respond. They respond with murderous intent.

Now I've occasionally said things in homilies to which people objected, but no one's ever tried to kill me...at least I don't think so.

But not Jesus. They force Him out of both synagogue and town, intending to throw Him off a cliff. But Jesus withdraws. He withdraws miraculously, mysteriously, majestically, leaving them paralyzed in their wounded pride; perhaps even questioning: "Who is this man that we thought we knew?"

How about you? How about me?

Are we sometimes like them? Do we believe in a little god, a subservient god, one at our beck and call, a god who does, or should do, our will?

Or do we believe in the Lord God, the God who created us out of love, who reveals Himself to us out of love, and calls us to do His will? 

And what about Jesus, the One the Father sent to become one of us, the One who gave His life for us, out of love? 

Do we listen to His Word? Do we realize He speaks to us constantly and from the mouths of the most unlikely people?

And that Cross He carries, that pesky Cross. Does He really expect me to carry one too? Why can't He just make my life perfect, just the way I'd like it?

Who is your God? Who is my God? Who is our Jesus? Have you and I created a little god, one our minds can comprehend, one we can control?

Or, like the deer that thirsts for the stream's running water, do we  thirst and long for the God of Creation, the God of Revelation, the God of the Incarnation, the God who loves, the God who saves, the God who calls each one of us to be His disciple?

You and I have to let go of our little gods and let the true God quench our thirst as He wills.

God love you.

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