September 4, 2023
Monday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
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 4:28–30
It’s hard to believe that those people who knew Jesus, those from the town in which He had been raised, reacted in such a severe way to our Lord. Jesus had just entered the Synagogue and read from the Prophet Isaiah who stated that “the Spirit of the Lord” was upon him and that he had come to “proclaim liberty to captives.” Jesus’ mission was clear. He was the Messiah, sent from the Father, in fulfillment of the teachings of the prophets, and yet 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 in regard to 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, it is clear that 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.
Jesus wants to do the same with us. He wants a response from us. First, He 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.
One example of this that is common today is the strong response that sometimes comes from a teenager or young adult when a loving parent confronts them when they begin to go astray. 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 the parent is to back off and compromise. But that’s not what Jesus did with the townspeople. He spoke the truth in love and accepted their response. So it is with those in our lives. At times we must 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 townspeople 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 His own townspeople 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 townspeople who became enraged by our Lord. Be open to any way that you have reacted negatively to that which Jesus has spoken to you. Consider, also, any ways that Jesus may want to use you to speak His clear message of love to another, even if you know it may not immediately be received. Pray for courage, compassion, clarity and love so that you will be able to imitate Jesus as He sought to move those of His own hometown out of the indifference they were experiencing.
My challenging 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.