Intention: For all those who recently have suffered the loss of a loved one, that God’s comfort and healing may find and sustain them.
Today’s Gospel | Luke 4: 24-30
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.
A popular topic at leadership workshops and seminars these days is managing change. Change in an organization, while necessary for its viability and efficacy, can be difficult for its members. Research shows that most of us resist change. We struggle with its risk, its disruptions and, most of all, its implications. Change is personal. If things are going to change, then I am going to have to change.
It is one of the paradoxes of life that people often want things to be different but rarely are willing to be different themselves. In Luke’s narrative, it is worth noting that Jesus was speaking to an audience made up largely of people who knew him and probably were not prepared to accept a scolding from him. His message was pointed: God’s Kingdom is upon you and you do not deserve it. Will you accept the truth about yourselves in order for God’s salvation to visit you? Their vitriol was their answer.
It takes an open and generous heart to welcome the challenge to change. Only by being willing to see ourselves as we truly are will we then be able to see God at work within and around us. Only by being willing to join in the sacred journey to which all of us are called will we then be able to encounter and do God’s will.
Journalist Herbert Agar once observed, “The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” While we are anxious for life to get better, we are not so anxious to be held accountable when it doesn’t. The time of Lent calls us to come to terms with our own culpability for the presence of sin in our world, and to humbly accept the grace to turn our lives around and back to the work of building God’s kingdom.
Eternal Father, you are always with us, calling us to faithfulness in following your ways. Forgive us for those times when we have made ourselves blind to your presence and deaf to your voice. In this time of Lent, help us to recognize you in the gifts that surround us in the people we know and in the opportunities that we receive each day to celebrate life and make the world better. Strengthen us to endure the trials that doing your will may bring and to stay fixed on building your Kingdom. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.