LUKE 4:21-30 KEY VERSE: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place” (v.24).
How would you describe the personality of Jesus?
If we were asked that question we might say that Jesus was merciful, forgiving, compassionate, honest, holy, and so on.
We might even take Saint Paul’s description of love found in this Sunday’s Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13) and apply that description to Jesus by replacing the word “love” with his name. We might say that Jesus was patient, kind, not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude. He did not seek his own interests. He was not quick tempered. He did not brood over injury. He did not rejoice over wrong doing but rejoiced with the truth. He was able to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.
However, this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 4:21-30) reveals qualities of Jesus that we may overlook. Jesus was brave, courageous, and bold.
God’s words in today’s First Reading point us beyond Jeremiah to Jesus. Like Jeremiah, Jesus was consecrated in the womb and sent as a “prophet to the nations” and like the prophets before Him, Jesus too faces hostility.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus was speaking in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. At first all in the congregation ” were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips ”
But it did not take long for praise to turn into derision as those present began to ask, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” Who was this carpenter’s son to be preaching to them? Who was he to be claiming that the prophetic words spoken by Isaiah about the one who would bring good news to the poor and healing to the afflicted applied to him?
But rather than explaining himself or changing his message to appease his critics, Jesus pointed out that prophets are never appreciated by the hometown crowd. Then to illustrate his point he reminded them of Elijah and Elisha whose wondrous deeds were done for Gentiles and not for their fellow Jews, not for their own people.
When the crowd reacted with fury, even attempting to throw Jesus to his death, Jesus did not run away in fear. Instead, “Jesus slipped through the crowd and walked away.” Jesus faced down his bullies. Jesus was brave, courageous, and bold.
Jesus acted as he did because Jesus knew who he was as God’s beloved Son. He knew his mission and purpose in life. He realized that God was with him. He was strengthened by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus knew that what the prophet Jeremiah was told in Sunday’s First Reading (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19) applied to him as well. ” So now brace yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I command you. Do not be dismayed at their presence, I, for my part, today will make you into a fortified city, a pillar of iron, and a wall of bronze to confront all this land: They will fight against you but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you –it is the Lord who speaks.”
If Jesus were not brave, courageous, and bold, he would have fled when threatened, he would have made his personal safety his first priority. Those qualities that Jesus demonstrated in the synagogue in Nazareth were seen throughout his ministry, especially during his arrest, interrogation, passion, and death.
As followers of Jesus Christ it is no surprise that we are to be kind, merciful, compassionate, and loving. But we are also to be brave, courageous, and bold when it comes to witnessing to our faith and defending the values of the Gospel. “Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation” (CCC 1816). And we can be such Christians with the courage and strength that come from the Holy Spirit.
Each time we make the sign of the cross, we proclaim the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit that redeems the world. The Trinity dwells in us and is the source of our discipleship with Jesus.
The joy of the Gospel is inseparable from our share in the sufferings of Christ. Whether we encounter it physically or in the sacrifices of service, we are united in Christ. Whether we are called to carry the Gospel to far-off lands or to our families, neighbourhoods and workplaces, we are united in Christ.
The Eucharist we celebrate today expresses the sign we received at baptism. The Communion we receive unites us to him and to one another. Now, as Christ renews his commitment to us, let’s renew our commitment to him, to being his faithful prophets in word and example.