REFLECTION FOR TODAY
August 30, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
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. Lk. 4:28-30.
The Nazarenes were so familiar with Jesus that they refused to accept his claim of being the fulfillment of the Prophet’s words about freedom from oppression when Israel remained under Roman rule. Yet Jesus did set captives free but not in the way they expected.
It’s hard to believe that the Nazarenes would react to Jesus in such a severe way. As our gospel reference today revealed, Jesus was rejected to the point that the people drove Him out of the town and tried to throw Him off a cliff near the town to kill Him. Again, it’s hard to comprehend the extreme emotions that people experienced regarding Jesus. Some came to love Jesus with the deepest passion, others were outraged at Him and sought His life.
One thing that these extreme emotions experienced by many should tell us is that we cannot remain indifferent to Jesus when we truly listen to His words. Indifference comes when Jesus is ignored. But when He is heard and understood, His message demands a response. If we do not fully accept Him as we listen to His message, then we will be tempted to reject Him and all that He speaks.
As individual, it could true if we had known Jesus as He grew up, we would still not really know him, not without the help of the Holy Spirit. Reading about Jesus and learning about the things he did or said can only scratch the surface of what there is to know about Him. The Holy Spirit challenges and surprises us in a way thus illumining the darkness of our mind to knowing Jesus.
Just as the Nazarenes’ responded in their own way, Jesus wants to do the same with us. He wants a response from us. Jesus wants us to hear Him, to understand the radical nature of His message, and then to make a choice. He wants us to follow Him with passion and zeal, to believe in everything He teaches, and to radically change our lives as a result. And if we will not change, then Jesus’ words will challenge us and evoke a response.
In life, when confronted in love and with the truth, emotion is often evoked and stirred up. But that is not always bad. The temptation on the part of those confronting us is to back off and compromise. This is not what Jesus did with the Nazarenes. He spoke the truth in love and accepted their response. This is how it should be in our lives.
We need to speak the hard but loving truth others need to hear even if we know they will lash out. In the end, challenging them with compassion and truth may ultimately win them over. We do not know what ultimately happened to those Nazarenes who tried to kill Jesus that day out of anger, but it is entirely possible that the extreme emotion they experienced eventually led them to the truth.
Reflect, today, upon the courage and love Jesus had as He directly confronted and challenged the Nazarenes, His own people for their lack of faith. Try to understand that Jesus’ challenge of them was a mercy He offered them to move them from indifference. In your life, are there ways in which you need to be challenged? Are there things you have reacted strongly to and even with a form of rage? Try to see yourself as one of those Nazarenes who became enraged by our Lord. Be open and pray for courage, compassion, clarity and love so that you will be able to imitate Jesus.
Lord, You desire that all Your children turn to You with their whole heart. Your chastisements are acts of mercy meant to move us out of indifference. Please speak to me the truths that I need to hear this day and use me to share Your holy word with others, especially those of my own family. Jesus, I trust in You.