Jesus is back!
4 September 2017
.Jesus is back! He has returned to Nazareth. He comes embodying the very Word He proclaims: love, compassion, freedom, mercy, hope. Yet, when his community encounters this Word made flesh, he is met with two very different reactions.
The first reaction comes when Jesus, in the middle of synagogue, chooses the scripture that describes his mission: to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to give sight to the blind, and to set the downtrodden free.
Jesus challenged those gathered to open their eyes to see the Word be realised amidst them as He proclaims that this promise from God to Isaiah ‘is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ Their response was one of astonishment. Why?
The final line Jesus reads from Isaiah, is a proclamation from Jesus that he brings acceptance and favour in the eyes of God. The ministry He has begun – and will continue after His death, resurrection and ascension in the mission of the Church – is about this ‘acceptance’ into the embrace of God through salvation. This ‘acceptance’ of God is what Jesus offers to those gathered in the synagogue: it is the same acceptance He offers it to you today. If Jesus spoke these words of acceptance to you, would you be astonished?
The second reaction comes as the Nazarenes well up with pride, seeking to claim Jesus for them as they define Him in a way they are comfortable with, simply as Joseph’s son. Jesus looks on this narrowness of view and challenges those gathered to follow His will and not their own: to follow the will of God rather than to seek to confine and control God in our lives.
Like the people of Nazareth, I have fallen into the trap of thinking that Jesus should follow my will. After all, I know what is best for me, right?
Yet, if I base my faith on how well Jesus fulfils my expectations, I will face the same issue as the Nazarenes. My initial approval will remain nothing more than a superficial attitude involving no real, deep conversion that results in my trust placed in Jesus. Sometimes we look to this superficial level to reaffirm our trust. ‘Jesus, give me a sign’ is a cry said to often throughout my life. What Jesus is promising us in the acceptance of God cannot simply rest on the surface, the external signs, leaving the depths of my being untouched, unexplored and unhealed. Instead, Jesus seeks me to go beyond the narrowness of ‘my own country’ and to discover my identity and mission in Christ. This journey of discovering the call of Christ in your life can lead to a rejection by the world on the surface, but is the key to experiencing the deep acceptance Christ offers you today.
I pray for the grace to trust Christ, experience His acceptance and understand my identity and mission in light of deeper relationship with Him.