The Gospel according to Luke (4:31-37)
Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
“What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out.”
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.
In today’s Gospel story, we see a very different reaction to Jesus’ authority than He had just received in His hometown of Nazareth (you can read the preceding verses in this fourth chapter of Luke’s Gospel to be reminded about that!). In Nazareth, Jesus’ listeners were so upset that they were going to throw Him off the hill the town was built on (and having seen that hill myself, I can vouch for how steep it was!). But here, in Capernaum, everyone is simply amazed. Why was there such a difference in reaction between the two groups? It’s a great question.
I think that question can help us with the lesson we can take from this short encounter: it can teach us in two ways: first, to be open to whatever blessing Jesus has in mind for us, and not limit ourselves to what we think He *should* do for us, and we should use care in placing any unreasonable expectations on others in our lives, expecting them to act as *we* think.
Prayer is one way that we reach out to God. It is our opportunity for a conversation with God about whatever may be on our hearts. And, yes, it is a place where we can ask God for those things that we need (for ourselves, or for others). Here’s that first lesson – let us not limit ourselves to what we ask God to bless in our lives! Let us instead ask Him to help us to be a blessing, and that we may share a little of His heart with those whom we meet.
The second lesson I mentioned is this: those whom we love, whom we are in close relationship with can be a source of wonderful blessings in our lives. I often say in preparing families for Baptism that there is nothing like hearing our name pronounced by someone whom we love and who loves us. That’s what those who are receiving this wonderful Sacrament are hearing from the Lord who loves them and created them. But, it’s also true that those who are closest to us can disappoint us – we may expect them to respond in a certain way to a situation in our lives (or theirs), but they choose otherwise. Wouldn’t it be best if we just look on those whom we love as valued, beloved children of our Lord, and pray that they would be blessed in whatever way God wishes for them? If we do that, it’s another way that we share God’s heart with them. Easy to say, yes – but, not easy for us to always do. But, thanks to God, we don’t have to do it on our own ability or own strength. We have God’s own Spirit within us, strengthening us, and reminding us of that great love that we live in. May we take today to pause a bit and bask in that love, and then go and share it with those whom God places on our path.
Action for the Day:
Take time today in quiet to sense the great love that God has for you, and ask Him to help you never lose sight of it, and that you may have the chance to share it with someone you meet today.
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