Monday, August 31, 2015

Reflection: Luke 4:16-30

Monday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time — Luke 4:16-30

Today Jesus is in his hometown of Nazareth. It was the Sabbath day and as was his custom he went to the synagogue. When he entered the synagogue, Jesus stood up to read. He was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He read this passage: “The Spirit of God 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 that is acceptable to the Lord! Then he rolled up the scroll and stated: “Today this passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Take a moment and put yourselves in the shoes of the people listening to Jesus. Remember, he was in his hometown of Nazareth. Many of these people had watched him grow up, watched him play and most likely corrected him at times. They knew Jesus very well. Since he was so familiar to them, it would have been easy for them to dismiss his words and his proclamation. However, they spoke highly of him and they were amazed at his ability to preach. Yet, they also said: “Is this man the son of Joseph, the carpenter? Where did he get all this knowledge and wisdom?”

Jesus was well aware that typically a prophet was not accepted in his home town. Yet he also desired to share his good news with the people he had known and loved from childhood. Sadly, the people did not open their minds and hearts to Jesus. He was far too different from what they expected him to be. After all, who did he think he was to come and preach to them? Did he believe he was better than they were? The townspeople became so angry with Jesus that they took him out of town, intending to hurl him off a cliff. He simply was too much for them. However, Jesus sadly yet calmly, walked through the crowd and went away.

Our initial reaction to this Gospel might be shock or dismay due to the reaction of his neighbors and friends. However, have you ever rejected Jesus because he was not who you thought he should be? Or because he did not do what you hoped he would do for you? If so, perhaps you can identify with Jesus’ neighbors. It may be easy to judge or criticize Jesus when he is not acting as we expect him to act.

Imagine the rollercoaster of emotions that Jesus must have experienced in these moments. These were the people who had watched him grow up, who supposedly knew him. He had grown up with them, played with them, eaten in their homes and worshiped with them in the temple. Yet, now they were rejecting him simply because he was acting in a way they did not expect him to act. And sadly they refused to listen to him because he had a wisdom and knowledge far beyond any individual in Nazareth. Luke writes: “He was too much for them!”

Can you identify with Jesus? Have there been times in your life when you were rejected because you were not the person a family member or friend expected you to be? I assume so. Even good people get jealous, envious and angry at times. And have there been situations in your life when you rejected another person because they were not being the person you wanted them to be? I would assume that all of us have been on both sides of this fence. Today I invite you to be mindful of your judgment of the people you encounter. It is true that judgment often is automatic and almost unconscious. However, when we become aware we are judging another, we then can choose to step back from judgment and let God be the Judge. It will not only free the other person, it also will free us!

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