Rejection in Our Hometown

Luke 4: 24-30
2 Kgs 5:1-15 / Ps 42, 43

No prophet is accepted in his own native place.
(Luke 4:24)

We cast Jesus from His ‘native place’
Every time we give in to sin;
If we want to imitate His ways,
Then let Christ our Lord live within.

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way. (Luke 4:24-30)

Reflection

Jesus cited two prophets in the Old Testament who were rejected by their own people (Elijah and Elisha), and therefore performed their miracles on Gentiles, like the Sidonian widow and the Syrian general, Naaman. But instead of believing His message that they had no monopoly of God’s salvation, the Jews took it as an insult to their tribe, and wanted to kill Him. How proud and hard-hearted God’s Chosen People had become. No wonder Jesus told them, “The kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit” (Mt.21:43) – the Gentiles.

“No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Have you noticed how friends and close relatives become uneasy when we try to bring up the subject of Jesus and His message of salvation, or talk about some topics in the Bible in relation to our daily living? Jesus Himself was not accepted in His own town of Nazareth, and therefore performed little miracles of healing there. And yet, today’s Gospel message seems to be telling us that when God calls us to be His prophets, we cannot do anything but respond to that call. Having received this gift of faith, we cannot help but spread God’s Word, particularly to those who are dear to us, especially during this Lenten season. 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 relatives and friends for the sake of the Gospel. Speaking about Christ and His Gospel values may not be hot topics 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.

It is easy for people to be cynical when they are familiar with us, especially when they know our sinful past. But our conversion and renewed life is precisely the kind of testimony that the Holy Spirit employs to bring others to repentance or conversion. As long as we persevere in our renewal, people close to us will forget or forgive our past, and will eventually listen and believe in our witnessing.

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. But You have helped us remain faithful to all Your commandments, so now may He always live within. Amen.

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