Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Is This Mary & Joseph's Son?

And so in Luke 4:21-30 the day arrives…the local boy who has been making quite a name for himself, is coming home. He goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He reads from Isaiah. He speaks a few words. The crowd whispers to each other how good he is: "Mary and Joseph certainly raised a good son." But wait, what happened? The crowd is beginning to get a little restless as he goes on. They’ve heard all about the great things he’s done before returning home. Many of the people had gathered to see some great event – a little razzle-dazzle for the home town folks. If Jesus would just do some healings or some other miracle, they would know that God's power was here and now, once and for all, and he would finally drive out the pagan Gentiles and their ungodly influences in the city. But Jesus performs no miracles in Nazareth, and in fact goes out of his way to defy expected convention of the respected in Israel by reaching out to sinners, toll collectors and outcasts. So what started as an initially positive response among the Jews, leads to anger and hatred when his mission opens up to include the Gentiles. The essence of Jesus’ ministry is the love of God for all people. What is it that sparks this abrupt shift from awe to rage for the hearers of Jesus’ words?
As for Jesus, it’s hard enough to live up to anticipated expectations. It’s harder still, of course, to meet up with unexpected rejection. There is a very human dimension to this whole story. When the hometown boy makes good, there are usually more than a few who resent his success. Why? As for us, there are all sorts of people in our lives who call us to compassion and justice. Some of them are very ordinary. What is it about the ordinary that’s so hard to see?


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