Luke 4: 16-30
1 Cor 2:1-5 / Psa 119
Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.
It’s always harder to convince
Friends and kin that we’ve changed our ways;
They’d rather recall our past sins
Than believe we’ve received God’s grace.
Jesus came to Nazareth, where He had grown up, and went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was His custom. Standing up to read, the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him. He unrolled the scroll and read where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favor.’ Rolling up the scroll, He gave it back to the attendant, and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue were on Him. He said to them, ‘Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’ All spoke well of Him and were amazed at His gracious words. They said, ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ He said to them, ‘Surely you will quote to me this proverb, “Doctor, cure yourself!” And you will say, “Do here also in your home town the things we have heard were done at Capernaum.” Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his own hometown. There were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when no rains fell for three years and six months, and a severe famine spread all over the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through their midst and went away. (Luke 4:16-30)
Jesus knew beforehand that His town mates were going to try to do Him harm when He made the prophecy that on that day the scripture passage of Isaiah would be fulfilled. Like Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha and all the prophets of the Old Testament whom the Jews persecuted and even tried to kill, our Lord was telling them that they had always refused to accept the Divine messages of their own prophets because of their pride and stubborn hearts. By saying “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me,” He was in fact identifying Himself with the prophets of Israel, and as their Messiah.
In the first reading, St. Paul humbly admitted to the Corinthians his human frailty and shortcomings as a messenger of the Gospel, saying, “I came to you in weakness and fear, and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom.” He simply trusted in the power of the Holy Spirit to make the Corinthians believe in Jesus Christ, and receive the gift of faith.
Today’s Gospel passage seems to remind us that when God calls us to be His modern-day prophets, we cannot help but respond to that call. Having received this gift of faith, we are expected to spread God’s Word, especially to those who are close to us. Just as the early martyrs suffered persecution as God’s heralds of the Gospel, we who have received the gift from the Holy Spirit must in a smaller way suffer some humiliation from our relatives and friends for the sake of GOD’s Word. They may ridicule us for being “holier than thou” — proclaiming Jesus and His Gospel values, which seem irrelevant in today’s modern world, but being faithful to the Word of God was never meant to be an easy mission for the true followers of Christ. Like St. Paul, let us just believe that notwithstanding our lack of wisdom, the Holy Spirit will use us as His instruments of evangelization to reach out to our friends and loved ones.
Father God, as Jesus our Lord has shown us, a prophet is not accepted in His ‘native place’. Nonetheless, please grant us the grace to proclaim Your Word boldly, because if we cannot win our close friends and relatives to Christ and His Gospel, how can we hope to be Your effective heralds of the Good News to others? Thank You, Father. Amen.