4th Sunday of Ordinary Time—Year C
We never really know another person, do we? We think we do, but we can’t ever know what’s really going on inside their heads or what confluence of events in their past has led them to be the person they are today.
Jesus faces this same scenario in today’s gospel, which is the conclusion of the story begun last week. Jesus’s hometown of Nazareth is ready to put Him on a pedestal and claim Him as “local boy done good.” Who wouldn’t be? Now He’s famous in Galilee for His speaking and insightful teaching, and He’s returned to Nazareth to teach there. He’s their boy. He grew up there. His parents are from there. He learned and plied His trade there.
Now that He’s famous for His teaching, Nazareth would like to claim a little of His renown. With all that Nazareth gave to Jesus, they feel it’s a legitimate claim. After all, Nazareth must be doing something right to produce a man such as Jesus. Nazareth is going on the map, folks!
But, Jesus’s message is not exactly what the Nazarenes want to hear. He hasn’t come to make them look good. He’s come for the poor, the widows, the lepers. Jesus knows this isn’t the message His hometown wants to hear. We never want to hear that we aren’t the chosen ones, do we?
It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the people who knew Jesus best rejected Him the most quickly. Rejected Him to the point of taking Him to the cliff to throw Him off. To kill Him. (And, in a few years, they would succeed.) Jesus wasn’t who they wanted as a native son, so the easiest way to deal with that was to get rid of Him, like a cancer.
But, in contrast, those without preconceptions of Jesus’s mission, the foreigners, the unbelievers, they were eager to hear His teaching, thirsted for the water He had to give. Those who took what they got in Jesus rather than what they wanted from Him, they were the ones who fell down and worshiped Him—the wise men in the Christmas story, the Samaritan woman at the well. They were the ones He had come for, the ones He could be with and actually do something for.
The question this passage raises for us is: how well do we know Jesus? Are we willing to shed our preconceptions to accept Jesus as He really is? Do we see in Him the realization of all of our hopes and dreams? Or do we fall prostrate before Him, anxious to do His will regardless of personal cost? Are we a Nazarene or a wise man?
Written by Ansley Dauenhauer, Coordinator of Elementary Faith Formation