The prophet Zephaniah spoke shortly before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BC. He speaks to us in our readings today. In his dire warnings to the people and their rulers he sounds like Jeremiah. No one escapes his powerful words, rulers and people alike. No one in Jerusalem is left out.
Jerusalem “hears no voice, accepts no correction.” Jerusalem listens only to herself and the voices she likes to hear. The city has become deaf and blind to what’s wrong.
It’s always easy to blame the problems of our world to one thing or one person or this group or that. Politicians are easy targets today. It’s harder to realize we’re part of what’s wrong. According to Zephaniah we’re all part of the problem; don’t think we aren’t.
Like other prophets, Zephaniah says that God will turn away from Jerusalem and let others take her place, they will come “from beyond the rivers of Ethiopia and as far as the recesses of the north.”
God turns around and gives his gifts to someone else. That’s what happens in the gospel reading for today: the son who once didn’t listen, hears his father’s voice, and he receives his blessing. The other son no longer listens and sees.