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cappie

FOURTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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cappie

This Sunday we read from the Gospel of Luke, continuing immediately from last week's Gospel. Recall that in last Sunday's Gospel, Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah and announced that this Scripture was now fulfilled.

  When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away. Luke 4:28-30 This is how it ends,   how quickly things can turn.  Now they want to hurl him over a cliff and be done with him. All because they wanted a piece of him and his power, they wanted to see water turned into wine, the lame healed, recovery of sight to the blind. They wanted to see it and experience it right here and right now in Nazareth.    

But we hear his unsympathetic response. He knows what they are thinking before they even say it. He goes to great pains to remind them that our God works in mysterious ways. That God’s power is often focused on strangers far outside the friendly confines of our cosy little communities of faith. He reminds them that Elijah was sent to a foreign widow in Zarephath; that Elisha cleansed a dreaded Syrian. A Syrian! There were people in need right here in our own community. Yet, he reminds them, God has always looked out for those in need beyond the community of faith, beyond the boundaries of our towns, our countries. God’s power is not ours. God is not ours, we are his.

But they don’t want to be reminded of the Biblical story, they want to run him out of town and leave him for dead at the bottom of the cliff—just as the people had done when they heard the young prophet Jeremiah, hurling him to the bottom of a well, so they could be done with his constant proclaiming of the Word of the Lord!  Yet somehow, he manages to get away. He escapes like his people had escaped from Egypt so long, long ago in that first Exodus, after that first Passover.

All this because they really did not hear him in the first place. They did not want to share God or God’s care with “all.” They do not want to hear about a God who cares about Syrians and all those foreigners.  They miss what he says. “This scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Our hearing ought to result in our participating in welcoming strangers. Our hearing this Word ought to result in our doing the work Jesus does.

 What he is saying with all these stories and proverbs is, in effect,   That our God is not a God who lives only in Israel, our country, the Christian tradition, the Church, our denomination, our parish, or whatever boundaries we wish to set. God is not ours. Jesus is not ours. We are his. And we are to go beyond the boundaries we set just as Elijah, Elisha, and Jeremiah did. Jesus, Paul and all those who have truly heard the Word of God in their hearing, in their hearts, and in their lives, know this and live this.

If the scripture is to be fulfilled, it must be in our hearing it, our acting upon it – literally, our being it. And to become the fulfillment of the Word of God, we need to let go of all notions that Jesus is ours and begin to figure out what it means that “we are his.” He has a special claim on us, not we on him.

What he said that day in Nazareth is just as true today: Live the life Isaiah proclaimed and  all the world will see that the Good News of Christ shines through all that we say and all that we do. And the greatest expression of God’s love may be found right here, today, at the communion table.  Here we meet God face to face, here we see and experience the love of God that reaches out to us and welcomes us as beloved children. This is how we will become a community of Love, a people of faith, hope, and charity  

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