Genesis 15:1-6/ Psalm 27/ Luke 13:31-35
Lamenting Our Time
Jesus the Prophet
Jesus had a lot of monikers; God in human form, Son of God, Son of Man, Saviour, teacher, preacher, and prophet, to mention some of them. Today, we meet Jesus as a prophet.
People usually think a prophet’s job is to predict what will happen in the future, which is not true. A prophet’s job is to read their time with critical eyes and preach the usually unpleasant and uneasy truth so that their contemporaries can change their ways.
For example, when John the Baptist preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near,” its purpose was not to let people know that the kingdom of God was coming soon, but to make them change their lives. When the prophets in the Old Testament mentioned future judgment or destruction, it was so that their people could keep their hope in God and lead a faithful life.
Lamenting Over Jerusalem
Today, we witness Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem, which was supposed to be God’s Holy City. He laments over the corruption of God’s people and the Roman colonial rule that causes his people to suffer. He feels like a mother hen caring for her children.
Jewish religious teachers are corrupted and hypocritical, their rulers are evil, and prophets are killed. As a result, the regular people suffer. John the Baptist was killed for speaking out the truth and the rulers didn’t like what he was saying. From what we read, we think Jesus knew that he would also end up killed by those in power who wanted to silence the voice of truth against injustice.
We are in the Season of Lent. Our Lenten journey started in the wilderness where Jesus was tempted and prayed, training for his future ministry. Today, we witness Jesus lamenting over the corruption of God’s Holy City and people.
Both imageries show us what our Lenten journey should be like; we pray and meet with God in a spiritual wilderness, not in the material riches or noises of our world. We also lament over our sins, the sins of our society, and our local and global siblings who suffer as a result.
What is Sin?
When we do something wrong or fail to do something good that we should, the Church calls it sin. We are taught to repent and turn our lives around.
Repentance is not merely saying sorry and moving on; it is a painful spiritual surgical process to change us from the inside. The word repentance means ‘turning around’; turning our direction.
There is personal sin and communal sin. If I hurt someone or refuse to help someone, that is my personal failure. But if we as the society or country refuse to accept refugees or perpetuate the systems of injustice that result in the suffering of the marginalized people, that is OUR failing as a community.
Lent is about lamenting our sins and turning our lives around to be better people of God. Traditionally, during Lent, Christians pray, fast, and give to charity to remind ourselves that we should love and serve others.
Lent is a time to remember who we are. Spoiler alert; we belong to God and God wants us to be loving and justice-seeking.
Our relationship with God started with Abraham and Sarah, when God promised them that their descendants would be numerous and prosperous. God made a covenant with them like we enter into a marriage covenant. Through this covenant, which is like the combination of contract and commitment, we live as God’s children and are expected to live a life worthy of God’s children.
God is Our Light and Salvation
Therefore, we join in the psalmist’s profession that God is our light and salvation, our protector, and our guide. Let us remind ourselves that we belong to God. God loves us, protects us from evil and harm, guides us to live like Jesus, and pokes us in the side when we need a wake-up call.
Called to be Prophets
Today, as a Lenten reflection, we are called to be prophets in the world.
As Jesus lamented over Jerusalem, we should lament over our time, our society. All sorts of bigotry rule, some groups are marginalized and dehumanized, war and violence rage and make people suffer, and selfish people are demanding personal freedom over the greater good, disregarding the wellbeing of others.
As prophets, we should not condone all this. We should not stay silent at the injustice and suffering of the world. As God’s prophets, we should speak out against injustice and stand by our suffering siblings.
Strengthening Our Relationship with God
I pray that this Season of Lent will be a time of self-reflection, strengthening of our relationship with God, learning compassion and a sense of justice from Jesus.
And we may or may not practice a traditional fasting from food, but more importantly, I pray that we will experience spiritual growth through prayer, reading of the scriptures, and acts of love towards all God’s people.
I pray that, as God’s children, we will love and cherish ourselves and others. Let us unite to work toward bringing God’s reign of justice into our communities. Let this Lent be a period of our training as God’s prophets and agents of God’s love.