Monday, March 8, 2010

Missing God standing right in front of us (Monday, 3rd Week of Lent, Luke 4:24-30)

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel
in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built,
to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

* * * * * * * *

“No prophet is accepted in his own native place”. It must have been with a very heavy heart that Jesus uttered those words to the people at Nazareth, his hometown. You would expect that being “their own boy”, they would be proud that Jesus now possessed such great wisdom and understanding. Instead they found themselves saying, “But this is only Joseph’s son!” They failed to believe because they failed to see in the ordinariness of the Jesus whom they knew from his youth, the power and presence of God in their midst.

And that is the really sad part of this whole situation. For they could have been one with Jesus in his mission. They could have joined him in his ministry and secured for their own town, a greatness born out of a sharing in the wonderful deeds that God was to do through Jesus. Instead, they chose to shrink into their shells and take refuge in their prejudice and contempt for one who was all too familiar to them.

There are occasions which call upon us to let go of our petty biases in order to respond to the call of greatness and nobility. Sadly, we miss many of those opportunities because like the people of Nazareth, we look at the occasion and say to ourselves, “I know this already. There’s nothing new to it”, and we return to our shells and congratulate ourselves for being smart enough to reject this novelty in front of our eyes. The thing is, that novelty is at times, the very means by which God tries to break through our labels and categories in order to show us something wonderful and worthwhile. Unless we change our ways and open ourselves completely, we will constantly miss them.

"The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart." (Friedrich Nietzsche)