And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon.
There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
Have you ever been so angered by the truth that you wanted to kill the messenger?
Like the people of Nazareth in today’s gospel, I think we sometimes want to be affirmed in our limited image of God. I want to believe in a God who rewards those who work hard, say our prayers, go to Church on Sunday, and follow the rules.
It is never this simple with Jesus.
Prophets draw our attention to the truth we would rather ignore. In speaking about the widow in Zarephath and the leper from Syria, Jesus makes a radical statement about God’s faithfulness to the poor, the foreigner, and the outcast. The people were so outraged, they wished him dead!
I wonder what egregious examples Jesus would give today. Would Jesus point to the racial tensions in our country? Would he remind us of the inherent dignity of death row inmates, people with disabilities, and the life inside a mother’s womb? Would Jesus challenge me to befriend people of different political persuasions or someone who does not share my same religious convictions?
As followers of Jesus, we are called to be a prophetic voice for justice in our world. Am I righteously angry and moved to action or prayer? Or am I appalled that God would ask such a thing of me?
—Beth Knobbe is an author and ministry professional based in Chicago, IL. She blogs at www.bethknobbe.com .
Father, you have given all peoples one common origin. It is your will that they be gathered together as one family in yourself. Fill the hearts of mankind with the fire of your love and with the desire to ensure justice for all.
By sharing the good things you give us, may we secure an equality for all our brothers and sisters throughout the world. May there be an end to division, strife and war. May there be a dawning of a truly human society built on love and peace. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.