“Men reject their prophets and slay them, but they love their martyrs and honor those whom they have slain.” - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Gospel text (Lk 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.
Today, we hear Our Lord saying that «No prophet is honored in his own country» (Lk 4:24). These words —uttered by Jesus— have been for many of us —more than once— justification and excuse not to complicate our lives. But, in fact, Jesus Christ, only wants to warn us, his disciples, that things are not as easy as they may look and, more often than not, amongst those supposedly knowing us best, things may still become more difficult.
Jesus' assertion is the preamble of the lesson He intends to give to the people gathered in the synagogue and thus, open their eyes to the evidence that, just because they are members of the “chosen People” they have no guarantee of salvation, cure or purification (which will later be confirmed through the data of the history of salvation).
I said, however, that Jesus' assertion, for most of us, is too often, but an excuse not to “commit ourselves evangelically” in our daily chores. Yes, it belongs to those phrases we have all learned by heart and, gosh!, are they effective...!
It seems those words are recorded in our particular conscience in such a way that, when we should, in the office, at work, with our family or with our friends, within our closer social “milieu”, be making decisions understandable only to the light of the Gospel, such “magic phrase” push us backwards as if advising us: —It is not worth your while to worry, no prophet is being honored in his own country! We have the perfect excuse, the very best of justifications, for not having to give testimony, nor having to stand by that colleague whom the company is playing a dirty trick on, nor having somehow to help reconciling that married couple, who are also friends of ours.
Saint Paul addressed, instead, in the first place, his own: «And going into the synagogue, he spoke freely about three months, disputing and persuading concerning the kingdom of God» (Acts 19:8). Are you sure, it is not what Jesus meant to say to us?