March 8th, 2021

The Gospel according to Luke (Lk 4:24-30)

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “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.

Opening Prayer: Jesus, you ask me to love my enemies and pray for people who persecute me (cf. Matthew 5:44). This is not an easy commandment. Help me to truly love and pray for anyone in my life that has caused me harm.

Encountering Christ:

How would it feel if people from your work, social group, parish, or even your home would drive you out and force you to leave? Have you ever been “fired” from anything? Or you weren’t chosen to be on the team or group? That is exactly what Jesus had encountered and I can’t help to think of the things He must have combatted. Such as abandonment, resentment, heart break, rejection and the suffering. I know most of us would suffer knowing that my people denied us.

One of the first places Jesus went to begin His public ministry was His own hometown. After entering the Synagogue and reading from the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus proclaimed that the prophecy of Isaiah was now fulfilled in His very person. This caused His townspeople to be outraged at Him, thinking He was blaspheming. So, they shockingly sought to immediately kill Jesus by driving Him out of their town to the brow of a hill off which they meant to throw Him. 

No matter what we may suffer in life, if God permits it, then it is always possible for that suffering to share in the redeeming power of the Cross. Consider any suffering you have endured and embrace it freely, knowing that if God permitted it, then He certainly has some greater purpose in mind. Surrender that suffering over with the utmost confidence and trust and allow God to do glorious things through it.

“For most of us, our Spiritual Teacher is our suffering. Because eventually the suffering brings about awakening.”  – Eckhart Tolle

We, our soul, must walk through such suffering to go higher, further, deeper, or longer. The virtue of hope, with great irony, is the fruit of a learned capacity to suffer wisely, calmly, and generously. The ego demands successes to survive; the soul needs only meaning to thrive. Somehow hope provides its own kind of meaning, in a most mysterious way.  

Suffering, of course, can lead us in one of two directions. It can make us very bitter and close us down, or it can make us wise, compassionate, and utterly open. Our hearts open either because they have been softened, or perhaps because suffering makes us feel like we have nothing more to lose. It is when our backs are up against the wall is when we find a way through that struggle and end with a positive outcome. This is how we learn and gain from wisdom.

Closing Prayer: Loving our enemies is difficult. It stirs up many different emotions: anger, resentment, fear, and pride. Lord, grant me the desire to want my enemies to be loved by you. Grant me the grace to love the people that upset or annoy me. Grant me the courage and love to pray for anyone who has hurt me or sinned against me.

Action of the Day: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for one person whom I find difficult to love.

This is a sign that I saw at the entrance to a small retail store.

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