Encounter, from last week, leads into transformation. Transformation obviously changes us, internally at first, and as we morph it begins to show externally in our behavior. People around us, family and friends have a pre-set identity of us. They like us to be the person that fits into their space, their expectations. When our behavior change, we disrupt this acceptance.
We are a group of guys that talk football over beers. Our finest hour is happy hour. The banter is usually loud and crude. This is group behavior and wanting to belong often mean that we alter our behaviour for acceptance. Then out of the blue, one of us had an encounter, and experiences transformation. In between football and beer, he starts to talk church. Happy hour is threatened. Not everyone in the group is ready to share football with church. Eventually the group avoids that person.
‘A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house’ (Today’s Gospel).
We have probably experienced both sides of this; rejecting a prophet amongst us or being rejected because all we want to talk about is church. God calls us to be his prophets. And there is a time and a season for you and me, but rarely do our times coincide. We have different timetables, departing at various life stages from one another. Our transformation begins with an encounter with the Spirit.
“The spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me ….. I am sending you to them, to say, “The Lord says this.” Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.’” (First Reading).
I may be taking a big passage from the Book of Ezekiel, and in my simplistic way try to turn it into bite size evangelization. When God calls, he normally also sends. When we transform, we embrace a new identity, shed away old ones. And in this process, we must move on to new environments to fulfil our new identity. Often it means a departure from old routines and spending less time on old topics with family and friends. ‘Church replace football’.
We move on because transformation pulls us along. It is the work of the Spirit who puts us into new environment amongst new people, where our new identity has a niche. We may be part of a ministry preparing adults for baptism, where we assume the role of teacher, sponsor, and sharer. Or in any other ministry where our talents fit. Here our identity is sought after, has a place, and fits. Our new identity finds acceptance. It is the place for the prophet in us.
We would find that our family and friends had also moved on. They would not be stuck in the same environment we left them because the Spirit has also been looking out for them. They too would have become prophets in their own time. Or accepted a prophet in their midst, someone else who did not have the same endearing pre-set identity they saw in us that they had wanted to cling on to.
We are all called into this transformation, to try to be prophet to each other. It takes us away from our comfort zones just so that we can be a blessing to a stranger who accepts our identity. Then, one day we will again gather for happy hour and talk about our faith adventures over beers. We will surprise at how loud and rich it is to be. Happy new beer, happy new life.
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time