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Homilies :: Latin Rite
Sunday of the 4th Week in the Ordinary Time Download This Homily

February 3, 2019

Sunday of the 4th Week in the Ordinary Time

 

Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19 ;

Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17;

1 Corinthians 12:31 -- 13:13 or 13:4-13;

Gospel LK 4:21-30


Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, "Isn't this the son of Joseph?" He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb, 'Physician, cure yourself,' and say, 'Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'" And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel uring the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

 

Accept or Reject

 

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus came to Nazareth, his home town.  Just before returning to his home town he had been performing miracles and preaching in many synagogues in Galilee due to which his fame spread around the area.  Now he comes to his hometown and there too he goes to the synagogue, where he stood up to read on a Sabbath.  He selected the passage from prophet Isaiah.  And after reading the famous passage (The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…year of Lord’s favour), he concluded his homily saying that ‘the text(scripture) is being fulfilled today as you listen.’  Yes Jesus has made his move. He has proclaimed the "year of the Lord's favour" (v. 19). The next move is up to the people to make. How will they respond?


It is very interesting to note that at the beginning the crowd is absolutely amazed at Jesus’ eloquence, taken up by his gracious words.  They wondered, ‘Is it not Joseph, the carpenter’s son?  Jesus the carpenter, the son of a carpenter can speak like this!


Is the crowd prepared to accept the year of the lord proclaimed by Jesus?  How do they respond to his call? What do the crowds think now?   What are their expectations from Jesus?


We gather their thinking from what Jesus tells.  Jesus repeats what the crowd is thinking. ‘Doctor heal yourself’.  Not in the sense of Jesus healing his physical body, but in the sense of doing for his own community in Nazareth, same or similar things he did in Galilee.  It means, the crowd is asking Jesus to perform some miracles in front of them.  They said, ‘we have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside’.


There are two things that we can gather from their thinking.  First of all, the crowd is not prepared to believe in this carpenter’s son.  They feel superior to him.  They want to see for themselves what he is capable of and then they will make a decision. Secondly they wanted to claim Jesus for themselves. They want him to stay there, and perform miracles in their town.   They ask Jesus to take care of the local problems at hand before worrying about more far reaching issues.  They almost give him a mild rebuke for his earlier activity in Capernaum. "Why didn't you start out doing those things here first, Jesus? After all, charity begins at home!"


That willingness to accept him as the One who brings a new future revolves around a sense of privilege that comes from having a miracle worker as one of the kids that grew up down the street. They want the future, but they want it for them.


Jesus does not want to put himself into their mould of thinking.  He begins by casting himself in a different role than the miracle worker about which they have heard.  He gives two striking examples from the Hebrew Testament, one from Elijah and the other from Elisha, two prophets closely linked with the coming of the Messiah.


 Elijah was sent to help a poor Gentile widow in Sidon (a non-Jewish area) during a famine caused by three and a half years of drought. Why did the prophet go to her when there were so many Jewish widows in the same plight? Similarly, there were many lepers in Israel but Elisha was sent to Naaman, a Syrian general. The Syrians were the hated enemies of Israel.


 Jesus was being quite provocative in telling these stories.


The moment Jesus takes to himself, the identity of a prophet, the crowd knows what that is implied.  Prophets did not have a reputation for bringing miracles and good things to the people of Israel.  Often, the prophets of Israel brought a message that confronted the people with their own failures to be God's people.  They called the people to accountability for their selfishness, for their faithlessness to God, for their lack of justice and mercy toward others, for their sin.


As soon as Jesus identified himself in a prophetic role, he would no longer be accepted with favour.  He was immediately rejected.  He would not be the first prophet told to leave town because his message hit a little too close to home (Amos 7:12). He would not be the first prophet to risk death because he dared to tell the truth to people who did not want to hear the truth (Jer 37:12-38:6). He would not be the first prophet who had the integrity to refuse to cater to the whims of the people (Mic 3:5-8).


Jesus had already faced the temptation to compromise his mission by using miracles as a short and easy way to solve problems (Lk 4:1-4), by focusing on ambition and self interest (4:5-8), or by attracting attention by showy displays of power and forcing God to serve him (4:9-12). He stood before the people of Nazareth, not as the hometown boy who had returned to shower his kinsmen and friends with favours, but as a prophet of God come to call them to repentance, to be servants, and to be light to the world.


The sense of privilege, of having some special status with Jesus quickly evaporated as it dawned on the people that they were going to get no special treatment. The people of Nazareth would rather kill Jesus than share him with others. They reject him.


But they could not stop the story and message of Jesus by rejecting Jesus there. It moved from Nazareth, to Galilee, to Jerusalem. And even though they rejected Jesus in Jerusalem, and even succeeded in killing him there, they did not stop the story. It would be played out in Acts, as the apostles and followers of Jesus also suffered rejection at the hands of those who should know better. But they did not stop the Good News. It simply moved on to Judea, to Samaria, and to the farthest reaches of the Earth (Acts 1:7).  The Good News that Jesus read about and proclaimed that day in Nazareth, the mission that he defined was carried out in spite of rejection.  Today Jesus is proclaiming the same good news in front of us.  It is up to each of us to accept or to reject.


Fr .Cyril Kuttiyanickal CMI


Homilies Navchetana Apps, the first of its kind is produced and published by Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India to assist the clergy to preach the World of God and also as a handy spiritual resource for the people of God to reflect on the daily spiritual passages at their convenience. You can download this on your Android phone from Google play and you can see the Gospel reflections of the whole year. The size of this app is just 2.5 MB. We welcome your suggestions and contributions to server you better.

May God Bless you

Fr. James M L CMI

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Homilies Navchetana is an initiative of Navchetana Communications, Bhopal, India. We have been sending the Sunday and daily homilies last four years. We are grateful to you for your cooperation and encouraging comments. Navchetana is committed to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through modern media and performing arts. Through our Web TV, audio and video productions and stage programmes we take the Gospel message to the ends of the earth. Make a donation and be a part of this noble mission.


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