“Those who meet Jesus always experience either joy or its opposites, either foretastes of Heaven or foretastes of Hell. Not everyone who meets Jesus is pleased, and not everyone is happy, but everyone is shocked.” ― Peter Kreeft, (Philosophy Professor at Boston College)
Gospel text: (LK 4:16-30)
Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the Sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said,
“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.
The reaction of the crowd in today’s gospel is mixed. Some note the eloquence - the "gracious words" - of Jesus' commentary. Others find it hard to believe, knowing Jesus only as the son of Joseph, someone whom they had known for years and whom they had seen grow from a small child to manhood. The majority reacts violently, wrongly judging that God's honor has been compromised by the supposed blasphemy of Jesus. Despite their attempts to kill him by throwing Jesus off a cliff, he remains in control of the situation and walks away unharmed.
The people of Nazareth who reject Jesus make a huge mistake, fueled by their ignorance. "Since they did not understand Christ who had been anointed and sent by God. they returned to their usual ways and said foolish and useless things about him" (St. Cyril of Alexandria; Commentary on Luke, Homily 12). Living in willful ignorance is the moral equivalent of closing our eyes and ears to the truth. Jesus is rejected because to accept him would have required a change of heart and habits.
The same is true for us. Following Christ will cost us. Sometimes it will cost us mightily. But the reward will always be great, because even when we have laid aside much that is “good”, we will have received him who is the best - the origin, perfection, and fulfillment of all things.
That is a bargain we should always be eager to make.