4th Sunday of Ordinary Time
With the unfurling of the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in last Sunday’s Gospel the sense of expectation and hopeful joy amongst those in the synagogue with Jesus was palpable – ‘The Year of the Lord’s Favour is at Hand’ ! The salvation and restoration of a fallen people has come !
Suddenly, the enthusiasm and energy of the crowd is transformed as a dramatic reversal in mood occurs – the faithful of Nazareth become a mob ! Turning on Jesus, a series of events are spurred which culminate in the people’s first attempt to do away with their promised Redeemer. Despite having lived alongside the Son of God, they remained tragically blind to his true identity.
Rather than recognising Christ’s message for the Truth and redemption it represents, they sought to turn their minds to discerning how this local boy might best serve their self-centred needs and desires. Only willing to accept Christ on their own selfish terms they are prevented from seeing Him for whom He truly is. The Gospel ends on a most tragic note with their Messiah slipping ‘through the crowd and walking away.’
Their missed opportunity is a potent reminder to each of us today. We live in a society that shouts that all truth is relative, championing a consumerism where we are told to pick and choose according to our whims to be satisfied. In such a culture, it is all too easy to give in to the temptation to settle for a God of our own easy terms. Looking to Christ in this way, perhaps attracted by the novelty of His message but unwilling to commit our hearts and minds, we, too, sadly, become deaf to His Good News.
Crucially, just like the crowd in today’s Gospel who enjoyed the real and extraordinary privilege of being in the midst of their Lord, we too are Graced with His redeeming presence in the midst of His Church. Let us, however, follow the loving example of His first disciples who helped spread the Good News lighting up the entire world – with humble acceptance of His teaching and openness of mind and heart, trusting in His word. Today’s Gospel calls us to leave our comfort zones ! In this special Year of Faith, let us open our eyes anew to Christ, through our prayer and especially where He meets us most alive and real in the Church’s Holy Sacraments. Invite Him into our hearts – let Him transform us into the redeemed and joyful Faithful we were born to be !
He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your Hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 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.