The 4th Sunday: Luke 4:21-30
Hearing Jesus’ words about the poor reception of prophets by their own people, the people were worked up into a blind rage and hatred. They wanted to push Jesus off the cliff on which their town was built.
However, Mark tells us that Jesus passed through their midst and left them. Let us pray that this may never happen to us: by failing to recognize his presence among us (in the people around us); or by rejecting him. May our anger never cause us to be blind to the presence or message of Jesus in our world.
Let me spend a little time imagining this dramatic scene: how the mood of Jesus’ audience shifted and became so ugly. I ask myself if I always find his words ‘gracious’ or whether I desert him when he asks something demanding of me. Is it acceptable to me that God can bless people outside the Christian churches? Am I willing to make room for everyone at the table of the Kingdom?
St Luke is warning us early on that Jesus’ ministry involves a great deal of pain, and that my ministry to others may likewise do so. I pray for his resoluteness. Coming as Saviour to visit his people, Jesus intends to lift their troubles from their shoulders – but effort is needed on their part too. He tells the townspeople of Nazareth that it’s not just a question of spectacle, of a show of miracles ‘on tap’ – a deep change of heart can be needed. Jesus offers healing and help to all of us – but we ourselves must be open to allowing him to act in our lives.
Is this not Joseph’s son?’ His towns-people begrudged Jesus his success and the fact that ‘all spoke well of Him’. How do I feel when someone I know well is successful? Am I a begrudging person?
Forgive me, Lord, for the times I have not listened to people with unwelcome messages, and instead have judged them by association, by their families or hometown or trade or whatever. Why did the assembly turn on Jesus? Simply because what he said about the prophets Elijah and Elisha implied that God’s offer of salvation was no longer restricted to Jews but extended to Gentiles as well. Such an implication was anathema to those who thought of themselves as God’s ‘chosen people.’ Is my Christian belief so restricted that I fail to see that God’s choice is wider than mine?