Lk 4:16-30 Rolling Up The Scroll and His Sleeves

This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]

Monday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

By KATIE G.

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“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, “Is this not 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
during 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 he passed through the midst of them and went away.
My initial reaction after reading this Gospel was to be upset with the people of Nazareth. How could they not understand what Jesus was saying? After reading it again, though, I understood. Try looking at this from the perspective of the Nazarenes.
Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. Imagine one day that you are walking into Mass not expecting anything out of the ordinary. One of the lectors that day was is holy. He had allegedly done great works for God—but he was your next-door neighbor and you had gone to parties at his house all the time. You grew up with him. Then he starts reading from some chapter that everyone knows…
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Blah blah blah blah…. Pretty words, but you’ve heard them a million times before. You start to look at your watch. What are your plans after Mass?
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. What is the kid doing? Imagine the priest just standing there and looking at the parishioners for a few minutes after the Gospel reading is over. Who is this guy? Your dinner reservations are in twenty minutes!
He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Wait, what? They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” This boy couldn’t be the Son of God—he was the son of that nice carpenter down the street that made your dining room table!
Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Why is no prophet accepted in his native place? You would think that it would almost be easier for Jesus to plead his case to people he knew. They would listen without immediately getting angry or upset, right? Wrong. Prophets are not accepted in their native place because people don’t believe that God can work in their lives. To us, Scripture seems romantic and lofty, but it can’t be real! The things promised by Jesus cannot happen to us. We think that our modern world is in some way separated from the Kingdom of God.
For example, take this simple verse from the Magnificat of Mary: “He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.” Sounds wonderful, right? But is that what we see going on around us? Isis is slaying Christians and other minorities in the Middle East. In Central America, young people who can’t afford the $250 US per year that it takes to attend high school have two options to survive: prostitution or the drug trade. Meanwhile, some American businessman just bought his fifth beach house. So what Mary said can’t be true, right? The hungry are not filled. The rich are not sent away empty. The Kingdom of God cannot apply to modern life!
“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.”
We have become numb to the Word of God. But God is still working. The Word of God is still true.He just chooses to work in unexpected ways. God is not a God who fits our expectations. In fact, God works in ways that we could never imagine. That is why it is okay that we are so dumbstruck by the fact that God really does work in modern, daily life.
Why hasn’t God reached out and stopped the terror?
Why did God choose to become incarnate of a poor fourteen-year-old girl in Nazareth?
Why can’t we have peace?
When Job questions God in his time of suffering, God responds, “Do you know the time the mountain goats give birth? … Do you give the horse his strength? … Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars?”
Our expectations are methodical. If there is suffering, God should stop it. If x, then y. But God is not methodical. Can you answer any of those above questions that God asked Job? I certainly can’t. God’s pretty funny that way.
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 he passed through the midst of them and went away.
God is so merciful. Even though we push Him away and try to fit Him into our little boxes of expectation, He walks right through them and leaves you to think. You can bet that as soon as any one of those Nazarenes agreed to put their expectations aside, Jesus would have been right there with his invitation: come, follow me.

(79)

Fr. Alfonse (793 Posts)


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