Dear Friends in Christ,
Reflecting on the Mass of Sunday July 8th, I invite you to read prayerfully this account of Jesus’ visit to His native town of Nazareth, during His ministry (Mark 6: 1-6), and yet another visit recording in Luke 4 :16-30. What a sad reception for the Savior of the world. In this small village, so privileged, probably no more than 50 families, Jesus lived for 30 years. Everybody knew Him, and He knew them by name. As He addressed them in the synagogue, they were “Astonished”-where did He get all this wisdom?…..is He not the carpenter? The son of Mary? Imagine the disappointment and tears of Jesus, “He was amazed at their lack of faith.”
Yet the worst was still to come in a second visit (Luke 4:16-30). Once again in the synagogue, He read from the Prophet Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me….He has anointed me….He sent me to bring good news to the poor…Liberty to captives….sight to blind…to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor.” Imagine the scene as He rolls up the scroll, looks out at His audience of familiar faces, and drops the “bombshell”: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” In other words, “This is all about me. I’m the Messiah.” Then He goes on to tell them something they did not want to hear, that the Messiah has come, not just for Jews but also for Gentiles. That got a violent angry reaction. It was considered apostasy, punishable by death. Imagine the scene as they dragged Him through the town, out to the edge of a steep precipice, with the intention of throwing Him over to a certain death. Then we are told in a vague statement by St. Luke: “He slipped through the crowd and walked away.” How we would love to have a video of how He did it! In the plan of the Father, His time had not yet come. Surely Jesus must have reacted with deep disappointment and anger, that as St. John was to write later in the prologue of his gospels, “He came unto His own and His own did not receive Him.” Surely this must be one of the saddest events in Jesus’ life.
As we reflect on Jesus’ “Homecomings,” let’s not just point fingers at the people of Nazareth but reflect on Jesus’ “Homecoming” to us.
Most of us have known about Jesus for long years, prayed to Him, worshipped Him, but we have some challenging questions to ask ourselves. Is our knowledge of Jesus, our acceptance of Him, a knowledge and acceptance only in our heads? Have we REALLY, REALLY accepted Jesus as Lord of our lives? If so, do our lives reflect that decision? Can we honestly say with St. Paul: “The life I live is not my own; Christ lives in Me” (Gal 2:19-20)? Food for prayer and reflection as we meditate on today’s Gospel.