Gospel: Lk 4:16-30
When Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, as he usually did. He stood up to read, and they handed him the book of the prophet Isaiah.
Jesus then unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me, to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives; and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed; and to announce the Lord‘s year of mercy.“
Jesus then rolled up the scroll, gave it to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he said to them, “Today, these prophetic words come true, even as you listen.“
All agreed with him, and were lost in wonder, while he spoke of the grace of God. Nevertheless they asked, “Who is this but Joseph‘s Son?“ So he said, “Doubtless you will quote me the saying: Doctor, heal yourself! Do here, in your town, what they say you did in Capernaum.“
Jesus added, “No prophet is honored in his own country. Truly, I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens withheld rain for three years and six months and a great famine came over the whole land. Yet, Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow of Zarephath, in the country of Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha, the prophet; and no one was healed except Naaman, the Syrian.“
On hearing these words, the whole assembly became indignant. They rose up and brought him out of the town, to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built, intending to throw him down the cliff. But he passed through their midst and went his way.
After doing mission in surrounding villages Jesus comes home to Nazareth. He has done many miracles there and his town-mates were expecting to see some of the spectacular things they heard he was performing. However, they were not prepared to accept his own declaration that the prophecy of Isaiah about the expected Messiah was being “fulfilled in their hearing.“ They rejected him outright because thought they knew him too well. Their biases and prejudices prevented them from recognizing God‘s presence in their midst. Our biases impede us from recognizing the presence and the activity of God in them.
In the same Gospel, Jesus gives two examples of pagans being rewarded with miracles because of their great faith and obedience to the words of God‘s messengers. In spite of the fact that God demanded of them something unreasonable they believed and obeyed and were rewarded. The widow of Zarepath believed in the words of Elijah and obeyed. She could have argued that there was no guarantee the oil and meal would not run out. Naaman the Syrian leper, at first, tried to reason out that bathing in the River Jordan to cleanse him of leprosy did not make sense because the rivers of Syria were more hygienic. But when he obeyed the word of God delivered through his appointed messenger, the miracle happened. We sometimes ask why miracles happen infrequently in our lives. It might help to ask ourselves if we have been totally obedient to what God asks us to do – especially when we find it unreasonable, impractical and illogical.