Speak God's Word of Truth
In tomorrow's Gospelreading, Jesus raises the only son of widow of Nain. This is paired with an Old Testament reading in which the Prophet Elijah raised a boy to life. The Rev. Dr. Susanna Metz has preached on this passage concluding,
One of the many lessons we might learn from both these Scripture passages is that what Jesus and Elijah did, we must do also. We’ll probably not literally raise people from the dead, but we are called to be conduits of God’s grace, and we are called to be prophetic. Being prophetic doesn’t mean that we have to be dramatic. We are prophetic when we are aware of the needs in the world around us and we speak the truth about it. The power of prophesy is in the truth of the words and the challenge those words offer people to change for the better.The full text of her sermon is online here: Speak God's Word of Truth.
But we also know that prophets often get in trouble. The Old Testament is full of stories about prophets being reviled, ignored, harassed – and sometimes killed. John the Baptist lost his head. Jesus was crucified. Certainly we’re not supposed to be prophets like that are we?
The thing is – we are. Each one of us is called to speak God’s word of truth in a difficult world. Each one of us – not just the Dorothy Days or the Oscar Romeros, the prophets of our time – each one of us has our times to be prophetic. Different situations will affect us in different ways. Often, when we’re most prophetic, we so love what we’re doing that we don’t see ourselves as prophets.
There’s a man in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who left a very lucrative theater job in New York City to join the Brotherhood of St. Gregory. He gave everything away – absolutely everything he owned – to follow a call to serve the homeless poor as a monk in that southern city. Brother Ron lives in the shelter with the homeless. He helps them find medical assistance and food. He counsels them. He lets them know that God loves and cares for them even when they feel most alone and hopeless. Brother Ron also shares the stories of homeless people with congregations, seminarians, and city officials. The interesting thing about Ron is that even when people could be amazed and impressed by the work he does, that’s not what people see first. Ron is a prophet. He speaks the word of God to a hurting world, and he does it with power and truth. People see the graciousness of God through Ron, and they could use the same words the widow of Zarephath said about Elijah: “We know you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
That sounds pretty extraordinary, but Ron isn’t all that different from you and me. Our vocations are unique. The ways we’re called to be prophetic are unique. Like any prophet, we only need to take our connection to God seriously. That connection might be through the Torah, through Baptismal promises, or through whatever our tradition holds as a means of being faithful to God. God will work wonders through each of us if we’re open. God’s word of truth can be in each of our mouths. What greater compliment could people say about us than that we are people of God?
Labels: Gospel reading