Homily for the fourth Sunday of the year - Year C - Lk. 4:21-30
Father Daniel Meynen
"Jesus was in the synagogue of Nazareth. And he began to say to them, « Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. » And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, « Is not this Joseph's son? » And he said to them, « Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, `Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here also in your own country.' » And he said, « Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. »
"When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them he went away."
"Jesus was in the synagogue of Nazareth. And he began to say to them, « Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. » And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth."
Jesus is in Nazareth. He read a passage from the prophet Isaiah: we spoke about this last Sunday. Today, we attend the sequel of this event: we see how the inhabitants of Nazareth, maybe not all, but most of them, reacted to what Jesus did and said on this Sabbath day.
Straightaway, we note that the people reacted strongly, first positively, then negatively. First, they were surprised : "They wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth." It is the normal reaction to a supernatural fact: the people are amazed by the phenomenon. And this wonder must lead them to faith in God who acts and who testifies to his presence by this supernatural fact which is out of the ordinary. But there is a condition that must be fulfilled in order for faith to be born in the heart of men: it is humility! Those who are amazed by the phenomenon must recognize their inferiority to God, who chose the one by whom the phenomenon is freely performed: it is necessary to welcome the grace of God with a childish wonder!
"When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong."
Did the people of Nazareth welcome the grace of God with a childish wonder? When Jesus began to reproach them, talking to them about the widow of Zarephath and about Naaman the Syrian, were the people of Nazareth humbled? Did they repent like the inhabitants of Niniveh? Not at all! Far from welcoming the grace of God with a childish wonder, they became angry at Jesus, an anger so brutal that it led them to commit homicide! Yes, the inhabitants of Nazareth killed Jesus in their hearts! Jesus came to his own home, and he was not welcomed! "He came to his own home, and his own people received him not." (John 1:11) Jesus comes to his own home, and already he hears his people shouting: "Away with him, away with him, crucify him !" (John 19:15)
"But passing through the midst of them he went away."
Behold something extraordinary! The hour of Jesus has not yet come, so he goes away! Jesus is free! When his hour will come, he will go freely towards the agony awaiting him. No one will force him: he will always be free and in full agreement. This is what will make his sacrifice so noble! Jesus is God and he proves it. Here, he escapes from his adversaries. The day before of his death, in the Olive Garden, he will show for the last time that he can still escape from all his enemies, if it were the will of his Father. Jesus will say to one of his disciples: "Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Mt. 26:53)
Jesus passes through the midst of his enemies! Nothing could stop him! He is God, and that is where all our strength lies! If Jesus passed through the midst of his enemies, then if we are one with him, we too will pass through the midst of our enemies! Nothing can be an obstacle for those who are united with Jesus! Everything is possible for those who believe in the almighty God! Let us receive Jesus in this spirit, let us receive the Eucharist in order to receive from God all his strength and all his power, so that we can also pass through the midst of our enemies! Let us ask Mary to help us to believe and to receive the grace of God with humility. May Mary be really our mother: may she teach us to marvel at God with a childish heart!