Reflections on the Readings
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - January 31, 2010, Year C
By Dennis Hankins
He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. (John 1:11)
"Is not this Joseph's son?" Their incredulity hangs thickly in the air! Mark, writing about the same event, states the members of the synagogue 'took offense at him.' Why? Well, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?..."they explained. In other words, many at synagogue that day did not take Jesus or his true origin nor his rag tag disciples who followed him seriously.
Wasting no words, Jesus notes that a 'prophet is not acceptable in his own country.' The hometown folks, wasting no time, set out to prove his words by escorting Jesus to the brow of the hill at the edge of the village. This was to be, to put it bluntly, a long walk on a short pier. Enraged by their offense of him, they wished to be done with this hometown boy. For good.
Perhaps through the years, the villagers discussed behind closed doors their dismay of Mary, and Joseph as well, since he accepted Mary's explanation. They knew all of Jesus' relatives. There were aunts and uncles and several cousins. But they all seemed to be duped by 'the explanation.' So when Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah and stated "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing," it was the straw that broke the camel's back. They could take no more. Enough was enough. "Let's throw him over the hill headlong," they said. So they roughed him up a bit and dragged him before all of his relatives, including his mother Mary, and headed for the cliff out side of the village.
But passing through the midst of them he went away. Again they looked at one another in disbelief. Love incarnate rejected.
It is a choice we make, isn't it? I mean, whether we will accept who Jesus is and what he teaches. Like the people of Nazareth, we can choose what we believe about Jesus. We may not reject him outright, but there are any number of things we might think are optional about Jesus. But Jesus is not made up of pieces. He is the love of the Father in the flesh.
Hatred of him is inevitable, I suppose. However, the first reading declares, They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.
Love cannot be defeated. Therefore Jesus cannot be defeated. Love can be rejected, but never defeated. If we will receive him he will never leave us nor forsake us. A popular painting of Jesus shows him standing outside and knocking on the door. If we will let him into our heart he will deliver us from all the enemies of our inner self. Jesus cannot be defeated, for love never fails.
Today, at this table we commune with Jesus, and are nourished by the matchless love of his body and blood. And as many as receive him, to them does he give the power to be the children of his Father.
Let us pray: Dear Father, thank you for the gift of love made flesh, even Jesus, whom we receive today in the gifts of bread and wine. By the power of the Holy Spirit perfect us in this love and through us our world. Amen.