4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17 (see 15ab)
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
January 30, 2022
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
This is the first verse of today’s gospel. It is also the last verse of last week’s gospel. The verses that follow today give the people’s response to what we heard Jesus say last week.
Last week we heard how, when Jesus began his public ministry, He went into the synagogue and read a passage from Isaiah. After He finished the reading, He said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
In essence, He is telling them that He is the one they have been waiting for.
What is their response?
We are first told that “all spoke highly of him.” This certainly seems like a favorable response.
They “were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” They should be amazed! This is Jesus, the Son of God! However, from their next words, we might wonder if they were amazed for good or bad reasons. “They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”’ Yes, Jesus is the son of Joseph but what difference does that make?
Are they amazed at the profound nature of Jesus as fulfillment of the passage from Isaiah or are they amazed because the man they knew as the son of Joseph is saying such things? Is their amazement based on belief or disbelief? Perhaps a little bit of both?
If you were in their shoes, how would you have reacted? I emphasize “in their shoes” because we know the whole story. We know of the miracles that Jesus will do after this. We know of his teaching. We know Jesus gives his life for us.
They didn’t. They had reason for some surprise. Yet they should have believed him.
Because they knew him only in his humanity as their neighbor, many of them were not open to his divinity. Jesus is not surprised as He says, “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” They thought they knew who He was and were not open to something different.
They are not alone. When there was a great drought, Elijah was sent not to Israelites but to a “widow in Zarephath” who openly received him as a man of God.
Likewise, “there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha but the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” Even Naaman was slow to believe but he did.
These were the people who were open to God’s will.
The people in the synagogue became “filled with fury” and “drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill…to hurl him down headlong.” Not good! If they were only open to who Jesus truly is, they would not have tried to do such a thing.
Fortunately, Jesus, because it was not yet his hour, made it away safely.
Many prophets before Jesus had been rejected. Jeremiah had been called to be a prophet even before the Lord formed him in the womb. Jeremiah did not seek to be a prophet. He was appointed a prophet by the Lord.
Jeremiah tried to resist the call, saying he was too young. The Lord knew what Jeremiah could do for the Lord was the one who gave him spiritual gifts needed for a prophet.
God also knew it would not be easy for Jeremiah as a prophet. Before God tells Jeremiah to “tell them all that I command you”, He first tells Jeremiah to gird his loins because the Lord knows many people would not embrace the message. Instead, as He tells Jeremiah, “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you.”
God does not call everyone to a career as a prophet like Jeremiah, but He does share us to share the truth that He has given us through Scripture and the teaching of the Church.
Many people don’t want to hear it. They would rather live their lives of sin than change. We might feel rejected but it is not us they are rejecting as long as we speak God’s truth. As the Lord said to Samuel the prophet, “You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king” (1 Samuel 8:7b).
If they don’t want to hear God’s message, why should we care about telling them? Ezekiel 3:17-21 tells us of our responsibility here. It is their choice whether to accept God or not. However, it is our responsibility (each according to our state in life), to share the message. If we do our part, the sin is theirs. If we fail to do our part, we suffer accordingly.
The other thing I will add here is that if we stop sharing the message, we might stop believing it ourselves.
It is not easy to be Christian. As we struggle, the Lord is our hope as the one who creates us and delivers us from our sins.
What does the Lord ask of you? Are you willing to do it?
Trust and the Lord will provide.