Reflection for Monday, March 8, 2010: 3rd week in Lent.

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Schlegel, John, S.J.
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Today's readings have a practical lesson and a harder application. How easy it is to question and second guess the actions, motivation or intentions of others!||In the first reading, from the Book of Kings, when the king of Israel receives the message that Naaman was coming to Israel to be cured of leprosy, the king sees this impossible request as a pretext for Naaman's master to declare war on Israel. Then when Naaman gets the simple directive from the prophet Elisha to "bathe in the waters of the Jordan River," the general becomes indignant. Questioning the motivation of Elisha, he retorts, "Are there not superior water ways in his country?" Just so in the Gospel when Jesus proclaims the stubbornness of his listeners by saying "that no prophet is accepted in his native place," they become angry. They view Jesus as a fraud or at best, arrogant, given his family background. Each of these instances involves second guessing or stereotyping.|This is a common practice for many of us; it certainly is for me. This is not easily changed, but it is worth the effort. Lent is a time to take a long look at our life patterns and our patterns of living. Lent is truly a season of grace, a time when the Lord is calling us - each by name - to reflection and a change of heart. Perhaps our habit of second-guessing and stereotyping others is worthy of this invitation to at least reflect upon, if not change, this aspect of our behavior.|I like to view Lent as a harbinger of spring, a forerunner to spring. As such, it is a time to prune and prepare the soil for spring plantings; it is a time to design your garden beds and prepare for your spiritual re-greening and renewal.|Perhaps during Lent we can begin to be more reflective, to monitor more closely our actions and patterns of interacting with others. This may simply mean that I am going to make a point of being more observant, more cognizant of what I am doing and paying closer attention to what is my automatic behavior when I am listening or working with others. None of us likes being categorized or undervalued; yet we may do that to others, perhaps inadvertently. Let's watch those patterns during this season of grace. There may be some surprises.|In the first reading from the Book of Kings, Naaman initially second-guessed Elisha, only to ultimately relent and respond to his simple directive of bathing in the Jordan. And "his flesh became like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." Sometimes a changed perspective yields worthy, and surprising, results!|In the Gospel, Jesus, faced with the fury of his townsfolk, "passed through the midst of them and went away." What we do not know is if any of those townspeople eventually relented and realized what they truly had "in their midst" and ultimately accepted this prophet in his native place and, indeed, became a follower of Jesus.|Just so, what could be the fruits of our reflecting on our stereotyping and observing our patterns of routinely suspecting the intentions and motivation of others?|We are in the third week of Lent. There still is time to prune and prepare for a spring-like re-greening of our behavior and relationships with those with whom we live and work.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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