Deegan-Krause, MDiv, BBC
Deegan-Krause, MDiv, BBC
Making Room for the Prophet
Every prophet needs a welcoming place to go from time to time. This was true for the prophet Elisha who we hear about in the first reading today.
We also hear about the woman who welcomes him into her home and offers him the shelter of her friendship. She is the Shunammite, and Scripture scholars will tell us that this woman from Second Kings does not get nearly the attention that she deserves. She is called a woman of influence: she's a woman in midlife that runs a large household; she argues her own case before the king; when tragedy strikes. she wields great spiritual power, speaking the “Shalom” that brings healing to her community.
Her story shows up in our Sunday lectionary once every three years and we only get a very small slice of it as we do here today. So if you don't know the Shunammite it's not a huge surprise.
But chances are, you know, women like her.
You might even be someone like the Shunammite.
She's one of those women who knows a good thing when she sees it. And so when this Elisha, this prophetic guy, keeps showing up at her house, enjoying her food, hanging out at her table, telling his stories, building a friendship—she decides to build him his own retreat house, right on her own property.
Jesus would have been thinking about women like the Shunammite and others who have supported the prophetic tradition, when, in our Gospel today, he says praise is due to “those who receive the prophets.” He certainly would have been thinking about his own friends, Martha, Mary, Joanna, many unnamed women who helped to fund his good prophetic work, who would have fed his friends, sheltered them, counseled them, and anointed them for service; and when the worst happened, standing by his side.
I think of so many of you, who, in your own way, support our prophetic friends, who make sure the prophets are received well. And you do this not only in your homes, but in the organizations you run, in the creative ventures that you're part of, in lots of different places and spaces where you wield influence like the Shunammite. In your classrooms, your courtrooms, your boardrooms, wherever that is. This is good.
But here's the thing. It takes a prophet to know how to welcome a prophet.
You may be the prophet, the prophet that we need to hear from.
I know that doesn't fall easily on everybody's ears. So let’s just hear for a moment what the great Walter Brueggemann, the scholar of prophecy, says about the four features of a prophet:
One, a prophet sees as God sees, has a sense of God's heart.
Two, a prophet penetrates the numbness, disturbs the status quo, wakes us up.
Three, a prophet offers another vision, a different way; doesn't just complain, but shows us how the world could be different and better.
And for the prophet, always, always enlivens hope, helps us take the long view, get a sense that God cares about all this much more than we do.
So I want to talk to especially those of us who find ourselves in this juicy place of the second half of our life, like the Shunammite. It's so important that we are sharing our prophetic voice: because we've lived long enough, loved long enough, struggled long enough. We've seen things. We know things—we know that the world is not as it should be. The prophet in you is the part of you that says:
Enough. Enough nonsense. Enough cruelty. Enough. It’s the part of you that asks the tough questions. That doesn't settle for the easy answers. The part of you that swims against the tide—in your world, in your communities, in your workplaces, in your families, even your marriages and even your church.
We need this part of you to be strong.
And so I'd like to suggest—and I'm thinking right now about the great folk who surround the prophetic fire of Catholic Women Preach—some of us could use a little time. The prophetic parts of us could use a little space. Maybe we even need, as Elisha needed, a retreat.
I know when this part of me isn't getting what it needs. I start to feel it. I start to miss the prophetic part of me. I miss this thing that God and I have. And I know then that it's time to get some time on my calendar.
What I've discovered—and some of you have as well—is it doesn't always take a lot of time. Sometimes just a few hours will do it. You know if you can get a week that's wonderful. But just an overnight, just a couple of days: it can make a huge difference.
It said that the great prophet Dorothy Day, when things started to spin out a bit or she was feeling off her vision, she would get on the ferry to Staten Island and she would go; she had a little place that she would visit. She would pray; she would rest; she would read; she would write; she dipped her feet into the water. And she had God would do that thing—whatever it is that prophets do when they're alone with God—and work it all out; and she would come back stronger and better and ready to love.
So if it's good enough for Dorothy. It's probably good enough for us: a good overnight a good couple of days.
If you set aside the time—if we set aside the time, spaces will reveal themselves. It doesn't have to be fancy, right? It just needs to have a comfortable chair, a place to walk, maybe a slice of shoreline or a mountain vista, or maybe a desert hike that can help. But it needs to be a place where we can be alone with God.
I promise you if we make the time, God shows up. God always shows up. In fact, God is waiting for us in places and spaces like that.
So let's get ourselves there. Let's think about how we can make room for the prophet in us. Let's pack a bag. Let's get our comfy clothes, our walking shoes, our journal, our flowy pens, our musical instrument—whatever it is that we need to make for a good retreat.
And then let's just make it happen. Because I am most confident if we do this, if you do this, if you make the time, you will come back to us:
With a heart better attuned to what God desires for the world; with a vision clearer and a voice strong—a voice, of course, that will be asking us tough questions, and will be speaking truth to power.
But also speaking that beautiful prophetic hope:
That the world so needs to hear—and that we so need to hear—from you.
Bridget Deegan-Krause, M.Div, BCC
Bridget Deegan-Krause, M.Div, BCC
Bridget Deegan-Krause, MDiv, BCC, has served for nearly 30 years in professional ministry in Catholic healthcare and higher education. As a consultant for Catholic health systems and a retreat facilitator for boards and teams, she has worked to equip mission-focused leaders for service and is passionate about exploring spirituality as a resource for leadership. Bridget served as co-founder and managing partner of Leadership Formation Partners, LLC, where she oversaw information and learning technology and directed publishing and program design for its innovative and award-winning ministry leadership formation programming, including the comprehensive ongoing formation program Mission: Day by Day, utilized in dozens of Catholic healthcare institutions throughout the United States.
Bridget has served as the keynote speaker for a variety of regional and national gatherings, including the Catholic Health Association and professional associations in government and not-for-profit setting. She has conducted interdisciplinary research and published articles in the Catholic Health Association’s journal, Health Progress, the NACC’s professional journal, Vision and the forthcoming Raising Voices, Renewing the Church (Orbis 2023). Her preaching has been featured by US Catholic and Catholic Women Preach. Her forthcoming book on Catholic identity and the art of reflection will be released by Liturgical Press in spring 2024.
Bridget, a former Jesuit Volunteer holds a Master of Divinity degree from Notre Dame with a BA in its Great Books program. A board-certified chaplain and former member of the board of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, Bridget has long served in leadership within the profession of Chaplaincy, helping in the development of professional standards and ethical guidelines in her profession. She currently serves as a sponsor director for Bon Secours Mercy Health System's Toledo market board, and as a founding board member for the Discerning Deacons project.
A native of Michigan, Bridget resides in the Detroit area with her husband, and two young adult children.
The second of three volumes from the Catholic Women Preach project of FutureChurch offers homilies for each Sunday and holy days of the liturgical year by Catholic women from around the world. The first volume for Cycle A received awards for best book on Liturgy from both the Association of Catholic Publishers and the Catholic Media Association.
“Catholic Women Preach is one of the more inspiring collection of homilies available today. Based on the deep spirituality and insights of the various women authors, the homilies are solidly based on the scriptures and offer refreshing and engaging insights for homilists and listeners. The feminine perspective has long been absent in the preached word, and its inclusion in this work offers a long overdue and pastorally necessary resource for the liturgical life of the Church.” - Catholic Media Association
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