Saturday, July 1, 2017

13th Ordinary Sunday, Year A, 02.07.2017

2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16 / Romans 6:3-4, 8-11 / Matthew 10:37-42

If we were asked to name an Old Testament prophet, then depending on our Bible knowledge, we may be able to come up with some names.

And if we had been attentive enough at Mass, then we might be able to remember some of the prophets’ names like Isaiah, Samuel, Ezekiel and Elijah.

And talking about Elijah, he had a successor and his name is almost like that of Elijah, ie. Elisha. This is the Elisha that we heard about in the 1st reading. The woman saw in him a holy man of God, and she gave him food and lodging whenever he passed by that way.

And then in exercising his prophetic role, he told the woman, “This time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.”

So a prophet not only proclaims the Word of God and interprets the signs from God, he is also called to be the channel of God’s blessings for the people.

One rather obscure act of Elisha is in the 2 Kings (2:18-22) when the people told him that the water was bad and causing the land to be unfruitful, and affecting the people because they drink it.

Elisha then went up to the source of the stream and invoked the Lord’s blessings and then sprinkled salt into the water, thereby cleansing it and brought healing to the land and the people.

That is why in the Church’s Rite of Blessing of Holy Water, blessed salt is sprinkled in the water in the form of a cross, so that Holy Water is used for purifying, cleansing and healing.

So although Elisha may not be a big-name prophet, his prophetic action is repeated in the prayer of blessing of Holy Water.

In as much as prophets have names, there are also some prophets who are not named, and some others may not be prophets but nonetheless had a prophetic role.

We may remember that on one occasion, when Jesus went to the district of Tyre and Sidon, there was a Syro-Phoenician woman who came up to Jesus asking Him to heal her daughter who was tormented by a devil.

Initially, He answered her not a word, and when she knelt and begged Him, Jesus said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the house dogs.”

To which she replied, “Ah yes, Lord, but even the house dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

That Syro-Phoenician woman may not be a prophet but in humbling herself to the likeness of a house dog, she brought about healing for her daughter.

And that is one of the primary roles of a prophet: to bring about God’s blessings and healing for others.

And talking about house dogs, or pet dogs, some of us keep dogs as pets, or wish to have a pet dog. And if we have a dog as a pet, we would surely love our dog.

And if dogs can talk, have we ever wondered what they would say to us? I came across this write up called “The things dog-lovers should not forget”?

Here are some points extracted from that write-up, and it is put in a way that our pet dog is speaking to us.

1. Please don’t be annoyed when I jump all over you the minute you walk through the door. I have a lot less time on this earth and I’m happiest when I’m spending that time with you.

2. Talk to me. We may not speak the same language, but just the sound of your voice always brightens my day.

3. Comfort me when I am scared. I’m not used to a lot of noise or new things, and you make me feel safe.

4. Give me time to understand what you want from me. I promise I’ll try my best.

5. Please don’t stay angry with me for too long. You have your family and friends to make you happy. I only have you.

6. Show me that humans can be loving and are not filled with hate.

7. If you treat me well, I promise to be your best friend forever.

8. I love it when you teach me new tricks. It gives me the chance to impress you and I love it when you are proud of me.

9. When I get old, please love me as much as you did when I was young. I might not be a sweet little puppy anymore, but I love you as much as I did then.

10. Please be at my side when I take my final breath. I know it won’t be easy, but I really need you with me when my time on this earth comes to an end. I will be scared, but you are the only person I can trust to be with me.

11. When I am gone, please remember these words: People are born to learn how to lead a good life and be a good person every day. Dogs already know how to do that. So that’s why they don’t need to live so long.

Yes, if only dogs can talk, that might just be what they would say to us.

But actually we hear that every day. It may be from our children, our parents, our family members, our friends, our colleagues, even from strangers.

We hear those words that have a prophet voice in them. Let us welcome those prophet words and we will receive a prophet’s reward.

And the reward is this: as we listen, so we will speak and like a prophet, we will bring about God’s blessings and healing for others.