(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.
How is it possible that one minute this crowd is filled with admiration for Jesus, and the next they’re ready to kill him?
It wasn’t that they didn’t know Jesus. They did. He had lived among them for years. But he seemed to have picked up an attitude. While they loved what he said about freeing the brokenhearted and oppressed, they weren’t so keen on his call to repentance. Such talk coming from the local carpenter’s son was just too much to bear.
Sometimes our response to Jesus can resemble this crowd’s response. We’re swept off our feet when we first experience his mercy and compassion. Then as we get closer to God, the Holy Spirit shows us areas of our lives that aren’t under his control. When this happens and it most certainly will, we may be tempted to resist Jesus and even push him away. But becoming more like Christ and really making a fundamental change in our lives day-to-day means humbling ourselves and letting the Lord smooth out our rough edges.
Like the Nazarenes 2000 years ago Christ’s words can still be very hard to hear.
Some questions we may want to ask our self after reflecting on today’s gospel from Mass are:
Am I willing to "throw Jesus off the cliff" in order to maintain the false illusion of mastery over my own life? Am I open to the Word of God in all its fullness, or do I try to re-fashion it according to my own wants and desires? Do I reject the Lord's teachings when they are inconvenient or difficult?
The best way to stay on the path of conversion is to remember why Jesus came in the first place: to “let the oppressed go free” (Luke 4:18). God wants what is best for us. He wants us to be free of all that binds us, free to be united with him and to know the joy and peace he intends for us.
Getting to that place isn’t always pleasant, but it’s worth it. This Lent—this very day—can be a milestone in your walk with the Lord if you want it to be.