In His Native Place

Luke 4: 16-30
1 Cor 2: 1-5 / Ps 119: 97 – 102

Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.
(Luke 4:21)

Everytime we give in to sin
We cast Christ out from His “native place”.
Lord, let Your Spirit live within
And be with us in all our days.

When Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth, He 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 favour.’ 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, ‘Doubtless 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.

Reflection

Jesus knew beforehand that His townmates 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. The poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed, were all in the Lord’s favor, but for the Jews, they were as anathema as the Gentiles, whose salvation they could never accept. Jesus and the prophets were sent to pronounce Divine judgment, but they were all vehemently rejected by their own people. They refused to believe the prophecies, which were judgments as well as warnings of their impending destruction.

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, particularly to those who are dear to us. Just as the early martyrs suffered persecution as God’s beacons of salvation, we who have received the fire from the Holy Spirit must in a smaller way suffer some humiliation from our own relatives and friends for the sake of the Gospel. Speaking about Christ and His Gospel values may 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 Jesus.

Father God, we know we were also guilty of rejecting Jesus, and not accepting Him in His ‘native place’, which is our heart, when we were in the state of sin. To keep Him there always, help us to remain faithful to Your commandments. Amen.

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