Feb 5, 2019

Silence of the Lamb

 

Luke 4:21-30  

Today’s gospel continues where we left off last week. Here's what's happening.

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 townsfolk are impressed with the eloquence of his delivery. They are proud he has returned home for they had heard stories of his ministry and miracles in the surrounding towns. They joined in the excitement of how crowds were following him with great hope and expectation. But then something happens. They started to have second thoughts. Jesus had just read from the Old Testament prophecy about what the Messiah would do. Now he adds, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”.

His own townspeople could not fathom that the Scriptures, which spoke of the coming of the Messiah and the initiation of a new type of Kingdom, was actually present in the here and now. It seemed that the townspeople, although very religious and devote, somehow only could see the power of God in the world tied up to past events in times remote and distant. Nostalgia seems to be more powerful the present.

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.  Often, images and memories of what we can selectively remember as the "good old days", events in frozen storage, can seem more persuasive when we are fearful of the future. The temptation to despair will often extinguish any sense of hope.  When one is so used to living in a cave anyone who forces us to look outside of it and into a new day with fresh eyes can seem like a threat.

The people of Nazareth seemed unable or unwilling to reflecting and contemplate the bigger picture. Almost like a knee jerk reaction, they quickly changed the subject and then became "offended", personally offended. And then few reactions turn into a crowd of discontent. The discontent goes viral and it generates into a mob. And all this, before the days of Twitter!

Notice how Christ, after being swept up into this raging wave, saves himself. He doesn’t plead with them, nor does he try to rationalize. His friends do not save him and 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. It doesn't seem fair that he should use his divine influence to get himself out of a battle! Why put up a forcefield? Simply put, the Lord will not be forced into giving his life away. His life is his own, and he will wait for the right time so that he can offer it freely, without coercion.

At the end of his public ministry, when our Blessed Lord was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, he could have also 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 brushed off from his body all the injuries and scars. No one mob can force Christ into loving them. He freely gives his life and does so out of the most intensive love unimaginable while considering me and you worth the suffering, the pain, the sacrifice and even the silence he offered.

Yes, there are battles which we must surely fight. But we must never rush into any of them and never compulsively or do so just to make a point.  Sometimes, we also have to ride out the wave of hostility and, yes, with God's grace, slip through an angry mob to save our skin. There is no shame in that. Our shame will be revealed if we mistake the hill outside Nazareth with another hill outside Jerusalem. In the meantime, we pray that our faith will give us the strength to carry our cross willingly and lovingly even though it is heavy and it hurts. If we can do so freely, then the good news is that the Kingdom of God is in fact very near.

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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