Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18; Psalm 27; Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 13:31-35
“Lent is a time of prayer, but not for gloomy faces. Some people choose to give things up, but that’s a matter of personal piety. Many parishioners choose to add something, like prayer or extra worship services, or take on a cause.” – Diane Archer
Give up something during Lent? How old fashion! Really? Yet as life goes on we often give things up as we slump into the dark side. Have we given up eating healthy, thinking we have to die of something? Have we given up exercise in our laziness? In our cynicism have we given up respecting our leaders refusing to see any sincerity or honesty in them? Have we given up voting? In our weak faith have we given up praying? In our self-centeredness have we given up relating to our neighbors, even to those next door? Name our own. Giving up is not old fashion. We do it all the time. The reversal of any of these things would be to take on a cause. In today’s Gospel Jesus mentions something that we commonly give up: prophets. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, even after being warned, because that is where prophets are killed (Luke 13:33). (See Greek below) Who are our prophets? We might mention Martin Luther King, Jr. But he is dead, assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, his Jerusalem. We might mention Mohandas Gandhi. But he is dead, assassinated in New Delhi, India, his Jerusalem. The prophets are always marching on to their unique Jerusalem to die. Sure, we honor them after their demise, having refused to listen to them during their lives. But who are the prophets living today? Have we given up looking for them? Have we killed them by our indifference? So here is a cause to take on this Lent. Let’s look for the prophets. They might be some public social figure like King or Gandhi. But perhaps the prophet might just be the person next door with a word just for us.
Most translations of Luke 13:33 say that it is “impossible” for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem. However, the Greek literally says that it cannot “be received in.” The word communicates the idea that we can’t, to use an expression, wrap our minds around it. It’s unthinkable, which is different than impossible. Perhaps the best published translation is found in the New Jerusalem Bible, “It is not right” for a prophet to die outside of Jerusalem. Jerusalem has become the metaphoric place where prophets are killed. Jerusalem can be anywhere.
Jerusalem, our home town.
Prophets die again.