1 Thessalonians 4:13-18Ps 96:1, 3-5, 11-13Luke 4:16-30www.usccb.org/bible/readings/090417.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/17_09_04.mp3
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.
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.
Good News Reflection:
The scripture from Isaiah that Jesus read in our Gospel reading today is very near and dear to my heart. Back in 1989 at my first public speaking engagement, the parish leader who had invited me to evangelize his youth group gave me this scripture to read during the opening prayer. And he knew nothing about my lack of experience.
I felt humbled and honored that God our Father would choose to start my public ministry with the same scripture that he gave Jesus to read at the start of his ministry. Thankfully, my beginnings were much easier than Christ’s: He was immediately rejected, I was appreciated. Maybe that’s because I wasn’t speaking at my own church — my Nazareth — and therefore nobody had pre-conceived notions about my abilities.
That came later.
If spiritual growth is important to us, we never stay the same. Yet, people judge us by the past. If today we do the works of the Lord that in the past we had been unready to do, it’s “outside the box” of what others assume we can and cannot do. So they reject us or misunderstand us or try to handle us the way we no longer need to be handled.
What did Jesus do about this problem? He walked away from it. He never tried to force the Nazarenes to accept him as the Messiah. Certainly he was saddened by their rejection, but he moved on. He went to places where doors of opportunity opened for him, where he was free to share what he could give, where his gifts and talents could shine — in other words, where he could make a difference because hearts were responsive to him.
If it’s the people in your home who are rejecting you, God’s not going to ask you to shirk your responsibilities and leave them (unless they’re dangerously abusing you), but it is necessary that you find a place, a community, a prayer group, or a new circle of friends where you are free to be whom the Lord knows you to be. There are others who believe the way you do, who share the same faith, and who appreciate the gifts and talents and wisdom you can offer.
We should not fear rejection; we should expect it and walk right through it, just like Jesus did. If we run away because it hurts, we go backwards or off in the wrong direction, away from God’s plans. But if we take hold of Jesus’ hand and walk confidently and quietly through the midst of our oppressors to the places where we’re accepted, we find ourselves in places where God can work through us powerfully.
No one can thwart what God wants to do through you to make a difference in the world. What seems like a roadblock becomes merely a stepping stone to a new opportunity to serve the Lord with your unique and valuable gifts, talents and wisdom.
May Your word, Lord, be fulfilled in me, and may those who seek You be able to see Your greatness beyond my littleness. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica