18 October 2010

Stranger in the living room

Feast of St Luke
Fr Philip Neri Powell, OP
Ss. Domenico e Sisto, Roma

Imagine: you're at home near the Sea of Galilee. . .quiet morning. . .you are building a fire in the oven, or sharpening your kitchen knives. . .the children are tending the few animals you share with the neighbors. . .you can hear some men down the street readying their nets for the day's fishing. . .it's going to be another very hot day. Just as you move toward the back garden to check on your children, an unfamiliar voice booms out from near the front door, “Peace be to this house!” Who could be visiting so early? No one was expected today. You turn the corner and see two middle-aged men, one is standing and one is squatting next to your youngest child, quietly talking. The men are obviously travelers: they are covered in dust, barefooted, no knapsack, nothing to indicate where they are from or where they are going. The one squatting stands to greet you, saying, “We are sent by the Lord as a lambs among wolves.” For just a second or two you stare, mouth open, eyes wide. . .what do you say? What do you do? 

Luke tells us that there are two possibilities for those who are greeted in this manner: receive the men, feeding them and offering them shelter; or, do not receive them, refusing them the hospitality that strangers customarily enjoy. Being a pious person, properly raised in the religious traditions of your people, you offer them food and water. They smile and the older man lays his hands on your head, offers a prayer for healing, and says, “The kingdom of God has come near to you!” You know instantly that these men are indeed sent by the Lord and that you have been blessed. But what do they mean when they say that the kingdom of God has come near to me? Has King Herod been overthrown by the Zealots? Have the Romans been driven out? Has the Temple in Jerusalem been destroyed? Maybe the prophet Isaiah has returned to proclaim the arrival of the Anointed One! Seeing your distress, the younger man says, “Peace be to this house.” Then you understand. . .peace now rests on your house; the Lord God does indeed rule. His kingdom has come near, and His peace rules.

When we go out as lambs among the wolves to proclaim the nearness of the Kingdom of God, we go as bearers of His peace. No fear, no anxiety, no concern for consequences or trials or persecution. In our words, our bearing, our deeds, in the way we think and pray and preach, we are the sons and daughters of the Lord's peace. When we proclaim the nearness of His kingdom, do we exude His peace? Do we look and sound as though we hold His peace? Live it, breath it, carry it with us wherever we go? When we enter a house, do we bring His peace with us? No worries. No fear, no concern for consequences. Reveal the kingdom of God and just rest wherever He sends you.

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1 comment:

  1. Fr. Philip Neri,

    Can you direct me to some works on the Dominican theology of preaching? Or, does the Order of Preachers have its own theology of preaching?