Feb 1, 2016

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Luke 4:21-30

Today’s gospel continues where we left off last week. Our Blessed Lord has entered into this hometown and has announced the beginning of a new era in the relationship between God and humanity, a new initiative. Jesus announces the Kingdom of God and that the very words he had spoken were being fulfilled right in front of their eyes.

However, his town folk, although impressed with the eloquence of his delivery and, no doubt, proud in a certain way that he had returned home (they had heard stories of his ministry and miracles in the surrounding towns and how crowds were following him with great hope and expectation), they started to have second thoughts. Jesus had just read from the Old Testament prophecy what the Messiah would do. Now he adds, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”.

“The Israelites used to say that the prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled, either in the persons of some of their more glorious kings [such as King David] or at least in the prophets [such as the prophet Elijah]”(St. Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 12]).

His own townspeople could not fathom that the Scriptures, which spoke of the coming of the Messiah would actually be happening right before them. Regardless who they thought Jesus truly was, the evidence of something wonderful was happening all around them. They heard the reports of the miracles being worked by Jesus. This they did not doubt. But they preferred to keep the action of God’s involvement in the world tied up to past events in times remote and distant.

We must be careful not to fall into this trap also, of securing God to events in the past, failing to believe that our Lord can and does work in the here and now and is alive, active and still carrying out his mission and ministry in and through the Church, albeit in an invisible and hidden way.

The violent attitude and actions which Jesus witnessed when he stoke the truth is still very much manifested today and is typical of many reactions when the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church with conviction and without fear. The people of Nazareth, rather than listening and reflecting, quickly changed the subject by pointing to members of his family. Too often, if one does not believe in God or that God could possibly reveal his mind to humanity, the message and teachings of the Church especially with regard to family life, marriage and the protection of the unborn child, are often met with the same hostility and anger Jesus also experienced. Rather than accept the possibility that God might be speaking to us (which would mean they we would have to listen and do what He says), and even though it be announced through unworthy ministers of his Word, it seems easier to shot or attempt to embarrass the messenger, change the subject or not take it seriously, move the goal posts or walk out and slam the door.

During this early episode in his ministry an angry lynch mob surrounds Jesus and, dragging him to the top of a cliff, they were intent to throw him to his death, silencing him for good. Notice how he is saved. He doesn’t plead with them, nor does he try to rationalize. His friends do not save him nor does the law of the land protect him. Our Blessed Lord saves himself through his divine power as God and walks away from the hostility. Why? Jesus will not be forced into giving his life away. His life is his own, and he will wait for the right time to give it freely and offer his life for his people, not because he had to, but because he freely choice to. (Cf. St. Ambrose, Exposition of the Gospel of Luke)

At the end of his public ministry, when our Blessed Lord was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, he could have walked away. When he was to be brutally abused and tortured by the Roman soldiers, he had it within his power to switch off any feeling of pain or agony. When he was slowly crucified, he could have easily come down from the cross and brush off from his body in an instant, all the injuries and scars. No one can take Christ’s life away from him. He freely gives his life and does so out of the most intensive love unimaginable considering you and me worth the suffering, the pain and the sacrifice he offered.

May our Blessed Mother, who pondered all these things in her heart, help us to appreciate the Good News of our salvation and the sacrifice our Blessed Lord freely offered so that we might experience lives of true freedom and authentic love.

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