Gospel Reflection the Fourth Sunday Ordinary Time Year C – January 31st 2016
Jesus began to speak in the synagogue, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen’. And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.
They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’ But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside”. And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.’
‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’
When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.
Luke 4: 21-30
Some turned against Jesus, the one who spoke gracious words, or the one who spoke challenging words, and a mixture.
He was liked and not liked. There were people who were very religious and liked him, who were the backbone of Judaism, and others who went off him when he said what they didn’t like or agree with. He started with the Scripture – but then went on to point out bits of the scripture they didn’t like to hear – about foreigners. And later they would say – sure we knew him as a kid and his family; that meant they could write off what he said.
He was inviting them to the purity of their religion. Often happens when there are new challenges in the church. What is happening in the church where the world we live in challenges old customs and beliefs about marriage, civil partnerships, divorce, and also how to welcome people to church who don’t feel they belong. All are welcome here in the love of God. We don’t give up what is essential to our church but we are brought into rethinking and sometimes to change, sometimes to stay with what is an everlasting truth.
This happens in the church and in the family. We need to be able to live in love with different points of view and different ways of life. Child not baptised, marriage not in church, gay partnerships….the people are more important. Jesus is challenging them to see everyone as important, and especially the poor. He would always do this. And they would kill him for it, because he never put organised religion before people.
The words which are at first upsetting may proved to be gracious words as they were from the mouth of the Lord.
Donal Neary SJ
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger