“In religion, as in war and everything else, comfort is the one thing you cannot get by looking for it. If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end: if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth -- only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with and, in the end, despair. ― C.S. Lewis: (1898 – 1963: was a British novelist, poet, & academic)
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.
Which identities are viewed as sacred in our own cultures today?” Which identities cut to the core of us…to the point that a perceived threat produces deep wellsprings of anger, resentment, and hatred? For example, if we substituted the word “America” for “Israel” in Luke 4:25 and 4:27, how would most local USA congregations react? What about the American presidential candidates who purport to love Jesus?
One of the things this Gospel today should remind us of is “outsiders” in our lives and in our country are many times God’s insiders.
A second point to consider from the Gospel today is the Word of God does not always produce warm and comfy feelings. In fact it often does and should do just the opposite. This makes me wonder as I reflect on today’s reading, do I hear the Word of God as always comforting or do I sometimes find it extremely upsetting?
When we think we have things all nicely figured out, we probably don’t.
If I am completely at ease, dare I say complacently proud, in my own version of Christianity, then I’m probably worshipping a false idol of my own making.
Today’s gospel is not easy. A prophet may not be accepted in his own town. I should not be comfortable in my own cozy, ideal and ritualized version of Nazareth, where we all think and believe alike and no one ever gets their feathers ruffled when they hear the Word of God. Lent is a good time for me to reconsider my comfort level as a person who says, “I am a Christian.”
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