Daily Reflection – 3/8/2021
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away. (Luke 4:24-30)
What a sad commentary in today’s Gospel.
At first the people of Nazareth were amazed. But then they began to murmur, “Isn’t this the carpenter?” They began to take offense at him because he was one of them and how could one of them actually be the long awaited one. Their admiration eventually turned to resentment and hatred. Their hardened hearts soon became homicidal. He came to his own, St. John would say, but his own didn’t accept him.
That same attitude is very prevalent in today’s world. It describes what many do when they don’t agree. If people don’t like our words, our viewpoint, our sincere analysis, it’s easier to walk away. To pick up our marbles and go home. We don’t want to hear another viewpoint because it doesn’t fit with our rigid perspective. After all, we KNOW we are right.
And that same “this is the way it is” attitude also reflects how we approach our Lord, how WE interpret the words of Jesus Christ or how one person or event so dominates our thinking that we wind up rejecting our Lord.
One of the most important parts of the Lenten conversion is our acceptance that God is asking each of us to learn how to trust in Him and in what He says and does rather than try, like the Nazarenes, to box Him into our own limited categories. We need to approach Him with faith rather than hardened hearts.
God is God. I don’t own Him and neither do you. Now you might say that is a pretty silly statement. It isn’t. Because that’s what we do when we try to make Him in our image rather than make ourselves in His image.
When we feel that we possess God, things are beginning to go wrong. We can never possess God, rather He possesses us and that gives us our true dignity. The freedom He gives us to embrace his love so entirely also allows us to reject His love entirely. We can only truly dwell in his blessing if we embrace it with every fiber of our being.
That’s true even when we so violently rupture our relationship with God that He seems so distant that his love is entirely beyond our reach. Yet he recalls us constantly to return to the mystery of his saving love for us. Sometimes when our faith is weak, when our hope seems futile – sometimes it is then that we really experience His love as He gently calls us. God’s blessing appears in the most unlikely of places. His ways are not our ways.
To accept Jesus means to recognize who He is, to thirst for Him, to welcome Him and what He teaches, and to obey Him with faith. Instead of withdrawing from Him when He doesn’t answer us in the way we wanted, we need to stop. Stop and we ask Him to increase our faith and gratitude in what He has already done for us and in us. Stop and reflect on what that means to us in our journey of faith. Stop and ask Him to increase our trust and longing for what He still very much desires to do!
If we want to walk in freedom and grow in love and holiness, then we must humbly renounce our sins of pride, of arrogance, of rigidity to a belief that is contra to His words. We must instead submit to Christ’s words and let them be a healing presence in our lives.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, teach me to love your ways that I may be quick to renounce sin and willfulness in my life. Make me whole and clean again that I may delight to do your will.”
How often this happens in the life of Jesus – that people follow him and then go off in a different direction when things don’t suit. Them. We come to Him in the hope that He will fulfil our needs and realize our dreams. We’re not sure if we have much time for Him if He doesn’t. But then, it’s hard for us to recognize what our real needs are. It seems almost impossible for us to rejoice completely in God’s love. Perhaps this is because we always want to keep something back for ourselves, to retain some control over our lives rather than suffering the indignity of ‘surrender’ to something else. Yet nothing we might cling to will serve us better than the complete freedom that God’s love offers us.