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Showing posts with label Nazareth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nazareth. Show all posts

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 4:21-30 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.01.31 (Sunday)

The Prophet at Home

Jesus began to speak in the synagogue: ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’

  But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own countryside.”’ And he went on, ‘I tell you solemnly, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.

  ‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a Sidonian town. And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many lepers in Israel, but none of these was cured, except the Syrian, Naaman.’

  When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away. (NJB)

Calling, Gifts, and Responsibility

There is a pattern in the Gospel narrative that plays itself out through all of the books. The pattern is this; the people who purportedly know Jesus best, understand his mission least. He is best understood by the marginalized, the stranger, the outcast, and the voiceless.

Those who are best acquainted with Jesus, the people of his home town, the disciples, Saint Peter--chief among them; they are quick and eager to accept him, but are often confounded, and left bewildered when Jesus does or says something unexpected.

The reading comes to us near the beginning of Luke’s narrative and it highlights this dilemma. In the first paragraph the are delighted by Jesus and love the things he says, but Jesus discerns something in them that causes him change his tone, he cautions them; give them a warning. He reminds them of how quick people are to turn against the ones they love and revere, to turn against their leaders and prophets as they did in the past with Elijah, and Elisha.

The warning is stern, the blessings of God will not flow if you are only looking after your own interests, and if you are uncaring about the interests of your neighbor, of the alien, and of the stranger.

Justice and mercy, love and hope, these things flow from God only insofar as they flow from the human heart. This is not quid pro quo. God is not in the business of matching our contribution, our gifts of compassion are God’s gifts of compassion, human agency is the only path by which God enters the lives of human beings.

If we are not doing the good work of God, the good work will not get done.

The people of Jesus’ village mistook the power that Jesus had; to heal and restore, and the fame that was gathering around him, as something belonging to them, something they had a right to, something to use for themselves, and because of this self-interest they were not able to receive it at that time.

In the same way the disciples continuously misunderstood Jesus’ ministry. They chastised him for talking to women, for eating with outsiders, and they abandoned him on the night he was arrested. Saint Peter, the rock of the Church, denied him publicly. Only a handful of women, remained by his side until the very end.

Most Christians today are in the position that the townsfolk of Nazareth were in, at the time Jesus delivered this teaching. They believe that being a Christian gives them some special status in the world, as if God loved them more than God loves any of God’s children. The believe that God will reach down and save them, while letting so many billions of others go to burn.

People who believe this could not be more wrong.

The only thing you receive from being a follower of Christ is the burden of responsibility to love your neighbor as God loves them, to love them as you love God.

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Homily – The Gospel of Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21 ©

The Gospel of the Day – 2016.01.24 (Sunday)

Purpose and Witness

Seeing that many others have undertaken to draw up accounts of the events that have taken place among us, exactly as these were handed down to us by those who from the outset were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word, I in my turn, after carefully going over the whole story from the beginning, have decided to write an ordered account for you, Theophilus, so that your Excellency may learn how well founded the teaching is that you have received.

  Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.

He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up.

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor,
to proclaim liberty to captives
and to the blind new sight,
to set the downtrodden free,
to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ (NJB)

Following Jesus

Something happened in Palestine, something happened in old Judea, a movement began in Galilee, and spread throughout the world.

The Gospel of Saint Luke purports to have been written by Luke, who was physician, and a follower of the sainted Apostle Paul. Together Luke and Paul brought the “good news” to the diaspora, and to the gentiles. In the good news, there was hope, and trust and love; it was the blue print for a community that was not of this earth, in it was the promise of salvation.

Luke’s Gospel, however, was not written by a man named Luke, it was written by the community he formed, decades after his passing, and it was not dedicated to a man named Theophilus, but to all of God’s children, everywhere.

This passage tells us of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth; a Jewish man who taught in synagogues, as his followers would do in later years. He was a Jew of the diaspora. People called him Rabbi, this marked him as a Pharisee, a teacher of the law.

Jesus taught in the prophetic tradition. He exhorted people to action, he performed works of service, and he told the truth as if it had descended on him like the Spirit of God.

Any of us who have taken on the work of carrying the mantle of Christ; we must adhere closely to the central point of this reading:

Our ministry is to bring good news to the poor; to proclaim liberty to captives, to restore sight to the blind, and to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the jubilee (a year of favor, the forgiveness of debts).

This is working is never done, even though it is fulfilled every day.

As long as the world endures, this ministry will need to be proclaimed, the year of God’s favor, the jubilee; that year never ends. It is God’s year, it is eternal.

If you envision yourself as a servant of God, then you must be a servant of the people; there is no other way to serve God. Your teaching must be joyful, and full of hope.

If you are going to proclaim liberty to the captives, you must set people free. In the time of Christ the captives he spoke of were the populations of people who had been taken from their homes as the spoils of war. The Romans called these people servi, servus meaning servant, meaning slave. The slave economy of the ancient world does not look the same today as it did then, but there are hundreds of millions of people living in servitude, without rights, without recourse to the law. If you follow in the footsteps of Jesus, you must call for justice, and the freeing of these people.

You must restore sight to the blind, which is to say you must convince the rulers of the world, and their armies, the powers that be; you must convince them that there is other way to peace, and security than for them to relinquish their power, give up their wealth in order to foster justice for all. 
The blind are the world’s elite, the 1%, and the only cure for their blindness is the truth.

This is how you will set the downtrodden free, forgive their debts, not just once every seven years, but now and forever.

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time