Lent IV Laetare
Sunday March 10, 2013
from the traditional western readings for today and using those for
year C, we entertain Luke’s Gospel Chapter 4, v21-30.
When Jesus stood to teach in the synagogue, he received a cheerful welcome; Joseph’s stepson had done well in places like Capernaum. Now is the acceptable time – the year of the Lord’s favour; the occasion for fulfillment of prophetic expectations as perfected in Jesus, who was to be received as the charisma Sovereign. Many people were delighted to hear Him speak today in the village synagogue where He had been raised. Our Lord knew that some amongst them doubted His truthfulness and His authenticity. I don’t know how many recognized His Messiahship. “Physician, heal yourself: No prophet is accepted in his own country.” The latter discovered, non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, interestingly states: “No prophet is acceptable in his village; no physician heals those who know him.” The reason is that locals tend not to stridently accept the commonly recognized. There is a fascination in those who have come from afar. The Master further challenges His folk in regard to Elijah who provided food and oil to the widow of Gentile Sidon whereas, countless widows in Israel went without for 3-1/2 years. Elisha did not try to heal the lepers in Israel while God’s powers cleansed Naaman of Gentile Syria. God may abandon those who reject him but saves those who gladly receive Him! Does not the same apply to us today? Is this not also a challenge to us?
Do we not detect here the issue of ethnicity? The chosen people of Judaism regarded themselves, as did many Germans during World War II, as a pure and select race. Yet, God’s Providence transcends nationalities, skin colours, languages spoken, geographic borders, economic estates and educational status. Such is a mark of essential Christian mutuality.
The role of Christ’s incarnational birth lead His kinship out from Yehudite ancestry and into His Mystical Body, our Holy Mother Church and our election unto the Kingdom of Heaven, by which the New Israel passes through earthly strictures into companionship with the Holy Trinity in continuing dimensions.
Human limitations are so fragile that the angry synagogue attendees could not tolerate the challenge against their sense of entitlement so they drove Jesus out from the place where he had prayed, read, studied and taught, away from His spiritual roots. They willed His death, there and then, but He passed through the midst of them. His escape from them enabled His continuing mission to His murder at Jerusalem with the result in His Resurrection for us and for our salvation and for that of the whole world.
In these faithless days, we are called to witness in the midst of transition, which affects us all. This pilgrimage may be better secured for you if you set aside Saturday March 23 for our Silent Mini Retreat Quiet Day. All around us, others are struggling with poverty and illness, choices and challenges. Let us hold them up in prayer and also this week for leaders and members of the Roman Obedience who will select their new chief bishop. His role is often one of universal and ecumenical Christian leadership inspiration which influences much that goes on in the spiritual lives of multitudes. Perseverance in faith to you all.