It is fairly clear that God’s voice in the Scriptures usually comes through someone who is either undeniably unqualified for the job or someone who simply isn’t a model citizen. Jesus uses two such individuals as examples in the passage we read from the Gospel today.
Jonah tried to run away from the task that God set for him simply because he didn’t want to see the Ninevites benefit from God’s mercy and compassion. They were, after all, mortal enemies of the children of Israel. The Queen of Sheba is a non-believer. Yet the little we know of her includes the fact that she praises God for choosing Solomon to reign.
Jonah was the only successful prophet in the Hebrew Scriptures. His success was with non-Israelites. The Queen of Sheba was a non-Israelite herself. When Jesus uses them as examples of listening to God’s Word, he might as well have rubbed salt into an open wound. This had to sting.
How very like the people of Jesus’ audience we still are! We consider a person’s qualifications before we listen to the message. This is precisely why God’s Word usually comes from unexpected sources. If we ever needed proof that the Word is divine and not human, it lies in the unqualified messenger.
The fact of the matter is that God chooses to speak to us through the most unlikely among us. God often chooses the young, members of different races, the poor, the outcast as messengers. God does this for a reason. God’s intent is make sure that we realize that God’s Word comes from God, not from human beings. Be wary of those who claim to preach the Good News while storing up for themselves great reputations and great wealth. God’s Kingdom is the Kingdom of the Poor and Downtrodden.
Lent presents us with an opportunity to listen. Open ears and open hearts are needed to really hear what God has to say. It’s the message that is important, not the messenger.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator