The Gospel according to Luke (4:16-30)
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.
Opening Prayer: My challenging Lord, You desire that all Your children turn to You with their whole heart. Your chastisements are acts of mercy meant to move us out of indifference. Please speak to me the truths that I need to hear this day and use me to share Your holy word with others, especially those of my own family. Jesus, I trust in You.
Encountering Christ: It’s not easy trying to proclaim the Word of God to our neighbors, friends, and even family. They refuse to hear what your beliefs are or even if they are Catholic (your people just like the Gospel), they refuse to hear your interpretation of The Word. Today’s Gospel states that the people of the synagogue (Jesus’ people) attempted to drive him out and throw him off a hill. Isn’t it true that we encounter these “non-believers” every now and then? Isn’t it frustrating and I am sure that Jesus is just as frustrated with His own people!
One example of this that is common today is the strong response that sometimes comes from one of our teenage or young adult children when a loving parent confronts them when they begin to go astray. When confronted in love and with the truth, emotion is often evoked and stirred up. But that is not always bad. The temptation on the part of the parent is to back off and compromise. But that’s not what Jesus did with the townspeople. He spoke the truth in love and accepted their response. So it is with those in our lives. At times we must speak the hard but loving truth others need to hear even if we know they will lash out. In the end, challenging them with compassion and truth may ultimately win them over. We do not know what ultimately happened to those townspeople who tried to kill Jesus that day out of anger, but it is entirely possible that the extreme emotion they experienced eventually led them to the truth.
Another example is myself when I was away from the church for many years because I was a “nay-sayer” or “bobble-head” and challenging all the things that occurred within the church. And it wasn’t until one specific retreat weekend when God slapped me upside my head and said, “What are you doing stupid”! All joking aside, it was that specific weekend that I became a God-Fearing man and devoted my life to Him. My life is now defined by this scripture, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20
Jesus wants a response from each one of us. First, He wants us to hear Him, to understand the radical nature of His message, and then to make a choice. He wants us to follow Him with passion and zeal, to believe in everything He teaches, and to radically change our lives as a result. And if we will not change, then Jesus’ words will challenge us and evoke a response.
Closing Prayer: Today’s prayer comes from the daily “Spiritual Love Notes” by (Deaconess) Rose Hillmann. “Stay rooted in the scriptures. My word is living and ever effective. I am the font of true wisdom and love. Share all that you learn and understand. Inflame hearts with the love of My truth. Serve as a beacon of light that gives hope. I am leading you on the path to eternal life. Your heart I guide in the depths of My love.”
Action of the Day: The Cursillo Retreat mantra is “Make a friend; Be a friend; and Bring your friend to Christ”.