2 Kings 5:1-15b
In today’s Gospel and the verses preceding it, Jesus quoting Isaiah instructs his listeners and us to bring the good news to the poor, to release the prisoner, to cure the blind, to free the oppressed. He and his message are rejected – perhaps because he left out the line from Isaiah that sites a vengeful God, perhaps because he is not performing miracles and other wonders for his own townspeople, as they expect. And then Jesus tells the listeners that a prophet is never accepted in his own town. He reminds them that Elijah and Elisha also did their healing with foreigners.
Perhaps this Gospel can serve as a reminder to us to listen to the directives from Isaiah and from Jesus. We are called to reach out not just with our own family, friends and community but also reaching out to those most in need wherever they are.
I recently heard Jack Jezreel, the founder of Just Faith Ministries, speak. Jack was telling the audience that as Church we are to be gathered and sent. I think we would all agree with him when he says that we seem to do a pretty good job of the gathering – of education, of worship, of forming ourselves – but we fall far short at the "being sent" part of the equation. How much time do we as church spend reaching out to those in need, to bringing Christ’s message to the imprisoned and the sick, or to caring for the poor. Particularly in these days, when many of us bear the burden of some economic set-backs, some giving up of living the life style that we had planned, can we be Christ-like and reach out to those who have less, whose need is far greater? Or do we find ourselves so self-centered that we forget about others and just struggle to regain what we have lost. Every day, in our papers and on TV and in many of our neighborhoods, we see the many areas calling out for help
For the rest of this Lent, let us fast from self-centeredness, let us give of our time, energy and resources to live the message of Jesus and Isaiah. And let us give not from our surplus but from our own poverty to those in need wherever they are!!
Mary Lou Butler is a former staff member and a longtime partner of the Passionists in California.