Sybil 1999

Gospel text

Luke 4: 21-30

21 After putting back the book of reading, Jesus began by saying to his audience, "This very passage of Scripture that you have just heard is happening today." 22 Everyone had only good words about him and were overthrown by these words of overflowing love that came out of his mouth, to the point of saying to themselves, "He is nevertheless the son of Joseph, no?" 23 Jesus answered them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb, 'Doctor, heal yourself! All that you did in Capernaum, from what we knew by hearsay, do it here, in your own homeland". 24 He continued, "Truly, I assure you, no prophet is welcome in his own homeland. 25 Frankly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was blocked for 3 years and 6 months without rain, and the whole country was suffering from great famine, 26 and yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a woman who was a widow at Sarepta of Sidon. 27 There were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them got back their physical integrity, except Naaman, the Syrian." 28 Hearing these words, everyone in the synagogue became furious, 29 and after standing up, the people dragged him to the crest of the mount on which the city had been built, to rush him down the cliff. 30 But he, having sneaked through them, simply went on his way.

People so diverse

Gospel commentary - Homily

Sent to foreigners

The homemade sign "For Sale", planted in the ever growing lawn in front of the house, was now part of the landscape on the other side of the street, when, one day, suddenly, it disappeared. Then, shortly after, in front of the garage, there was a big square jeep, all white, with this huge luggage rack on the roof that I had only seen in movies on safaris in Africa. And nothing else, except this mountain of massive wooden boxes, which were more like containers than cardboard boxes used for moving, and which accumulated now in the street, before the garbage truck showed up.

One day the doorbell rang. "Do you know snakes?", said a woman who was no longer young, but whose features, as if chiselled with a knife, expressed suffering, nobility and strength at the same time. "What, snakes?", asked the woman who had opened the door to this stranger. - "Yes, snakes, I have one that has just crossed my garden and I want to know if it is dangerous, I am your neighbor on the other side of the street". - "Snakes in this town in Canada? .... By chance would they be black and yellow?" - "Yes exactly!" The hostess grinned broadly, "It's a poor wood snake you've seen, no, it's not dangerous, but where are you from?" - "From South Africa", was her answer.

Thus bit by bit, the hostess learns her story. They are three women. Lorna, the mother, born in Johnanesburg, lived in Durban with her two daughters, Kendra and Brownwen. Her husband died early. Following an epileptic, Kendra suffers from a significant intellectual disability: she is now a 40-year-old woman with a mental age of 6 year old. And Brownwen, still single, is the breadwinner. Thanks to her exceptional talent, she was successful in her workplace and won an important position in a company, despite a minimum of training. Life could look beautiful under the southern sun, not far from the sea, with several housemaids in this compound that was their home. But it was hell! Impossible to shop without being armed! Maintenance of the car was a priority, for being stuck on the road could be fatal. Fear was part of everyday life!

And so Brownwen decides it's time to leave for a country where one would not be afraid all the time ... Canada! But why would she, Lorna, follow her daughter and leave the land where she was born? Ah! There is Kendra .... who will take care of her when she will not have the strength anymore? And did not Brownwen swear to watch over her disabled sister for the rest of her life? Thus began the long journey of three women.

It's ringing at the door again. Lorna. She asks a favor, to sit next to her in the car when she is shopping. She just failed her road test to get the driver's license: she was denied an auditor who speaks English and, of course, the French questions of the latter were unanswered. And of course, let's say it, at her age, driving right when one has driven all her life to the left, is not obvious either. To complicate matters, her daughter Brownwen is currently staying in California, where is located the only company that has made a job offer. So here are 2 women on the run in the streets of this town in Quebec. In fact, they are more like 3 women. Kendra can not stay home alone, and so needs to be as well in the car: she used to open the drawers, throw the contents on the floor, leave the house upside down.

This time it's the phone ringing. Lorna. No need to come for shopping. The car is dead, dead. The battery? Yes. Are there any cables? Yes. The two cars are brought closer. Kendra, does not understand what is happening, but panic feeling the nervousness of the two women opening the hood of cars. Who knows how to put the cables? But the South African woman has experience. One car starts, and then suddenly the other. Kendra's eyes light up, a large triumphal smile emerges, the two fists move with the thumb up in the sky, "We've got it!

Then she turns to the hostess with that tone of voice that all children have, "You know, I'll be 41 soon, do you want to come to my party?"

This real life story is a way to paraphrase today's Gospel: Jesus said that the good news is somehow experienced elsewhere than one's homeland, for it requires open hands that a foreigner often is able to show.


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, October 2000