A reading from the gospel according to Luke 4:16-30
16 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
17 and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
18 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,
19 and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
20 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.
21 He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
22 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?”
23 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.’”
24 And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
25 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.
26 It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
27 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.”
28 When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.
29 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.
30 But he passed through the midst of them and went away.
Reflection: Gracious Words
Good News: The scripture passage is fulfilled in YOUR hearing.
Jesus returns Nazareth, His native town. Surely, He does not forget His own people. He knew many of them heard about the miracles He performed in Capernaum and other neighboring towns. They waited for His return expecting that He will also do mighty deeds for their eyes to see. Alas, they were disappointed because Jesus did not perform many miracles there not only because of their lack of faith but also because they rejected Him. Jesus Himself observed that no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Early in His ministry, Jesus made clear His mission namely:
a) Bring glad tidings to the poor;
b) Proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind;
c) Freedom to the oppressed;
d) Proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
These are “gracious words that came from the mouth” of Jesus. It is His intention to give grace to the poor, the captives, the blind, the oppressed and to unite back the people to His Father.
Jesus also said that these “gracious words” are fulfilled today in our hearing. They are fulfilled today, not tomorrow. They are accomplished in our hearing, meaning, as we listen.
Yet even as Jesus speaks, the people were raising their eyebrows and began to murmur. Where and how did an ordinary carpenter get His wisdom? Let Him show us His power! Jesus knew the people were sneering at Him so he told them the truth about their lack of honor for Him. So they got furious and tried to drive Him down the precipice.
Two Important Lessons from the Gospel Passage:
1. If we acknowledge that in some ways, we are poor, captive, blind, and oppressed, then the mission of Jesus is for us. We need Him to liberate us or to set us free form the effects of sin that separate us from our Father in Heaven. It is important therefore that we LISTEN to Him in order to fulfill His mission in our life.
2. The people during the time of Jesus are not much different from us. We too reject many messengers of God because of our biases and prejudices. More often than not, we tend to listen to a person we do not know than a person familiar to us like our kinsmen or relatives. It does not occur to us that anyone can be used by God to give us the Good News of salvation. In the words of Desiderata: “listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.”