Monday, 29 February 2016

Lent Week 3 Monday

Readings: 2 Kings 5:1-15; Psalm 42; Luke 4:24-30

The idea for this homily was given to me by one of the Dominican cooperator brothers. Formerly called lay brothers, the cooperators are Dominicans called to serve our mission of preaching as solemnly professed lay members of the Order. It is a distinct vocation from that of the Dominican priest although the two vocations are intimately connected. The brothers protect our religious life, remind us that we are not only priests, and in many cases have far more helpful relationships with people than some priests manage to establish. I met with one of our brothers some time ago and in chatting about this and that he opened my eyes to things in today's first reading.

There are 'important' people in the story, some whose names we know, Naaman and Elisha, and some whose titles we know, the King of Aram and the King of Israel. But the action is achieved through crucial interventions by a number of anonymous people - the servant girl who told Naaman's wife about the prophet in Samaria, the messengers who carried the information about the cure from Elisha to Naaman, and the servants who massaged Naaman's ego and tempered his pride by saying 'if the prophet had asked you to do something difficult, would you not have done it?'

The brother speaking with me about this story did not have to spell it out: as well as the well known and public actors in these events there were the 'cooperators', the people whose names are not remembered but without whose service the thing would never have happened. We know that life is like this everywhere. There are people whose names become known and there are others whose lives remain hidden. On the last day there will be amazing revelations as we see not just Mary and the other saints already recognised by the Church but a huge band of anonymous people whose prayer and love for others, heroic and extraordinarily generous, will be made known to the whole Church.

In the meantime it is salutary for us to recall the 'cooperators' who have helped us in all kinds of ways in the course of our lives, to remember them with gratitude and thank God for their help, to pray for them and to them, that they might continue to help us on our journey towards God.

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