Homilette for Monday, March 16, 2009

Monday of the Third Week of Lent

(II Kings 5:1-15ab; Luke 4:24-30)

The hymn “This Is My Song” recognizes that everyone’s homeland has green clover and blue skies. It is only right then, the hymn intimates, that we pray to God to bless every land and not just our own. He is, after all, the Creator of the whole universe. We see in today’s gospel that the Jews of Jesus’ hometown have difficulty assimilating this truth.

When Jesus returns to Nazareth, the people expect him to work wonders there. Having heard of what he has done in other places, they think that he should do as much for his own people. But this expectation defies what being a prophet means. By definition a prophet serves God first and foremost. Only when a prophet discerns that God wants the village leper healed or the son of a local widow raised from the dead can he validly assist these people. Unlike politicians, a prophet’s mission is not local but universal.

Our concerns as Jesus’ followers must also rise above the here and now. We are to pray fervently for workers in China as well as our own who have lost their jobs because of the economic downturn. We are to send relief to victims of natural disaster in other places as we would certainly do if a tornado or earthquake traumatized a neighboring city. Such care recognizes God as creator and father of all.

Homilette for Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday of Second Week in Lent

(Genesis 37:3-4.12-13a.17b-28a; Matthew 21:33-43.45-46)

We often see the Joseph of Genesis as a proto-type of Joseph in the New Testament. Both are righteous men; both sojourn in Egypt, and both have dreams. However, pairing the Old Testament reading with the gospel today reveals Joseph as a symbol of Jesus as well. Like Joseph, Jesus is betrayed by his own people, handed over to foreigners, and suffers even though he is completely innocent.

Both the story of Joseph and that of Jesus turns out glorious. Joseph thrives in captivity and Jesus rises from the dead. Each reminds us that howsoever the severity of our suffering, faithfulness to God will end in a blessing.