Lectionary Cycle C, Reflections on Mass Readings — February 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm

What Does it Cost to Speak the Truth?

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In today’s Gospel Reading at Sunday Mass from Luke 4:21-30, we find a very interesting sequence of event unfolding. This passage takes flight from last week’s reading in which Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth, where He grew up, and went according to His custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. While there, he read passages from Isaiah (61:1–2; 58:6) concerning the proclamation of a Jubilee Year.

The Brow Of The HillIn today’s reading we discover that after the assembled Nazoreans heard Jesus’ pronouncement that “. . .all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” Indeed, being a people who were oppressed, marginalized, and heavily taxed by a foreign government, the local townsfolk had to be very happy to hear these good tidings from Jesus about a new year of Jubilee. The next thing we read is that, “They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

Have you ever found yourself in a situation were something or someone seemed too good to be true? What happens in those situation is that we start to find reasons to doubt; we find flaws in the object or the message or the messenger; we begin to create scenarios, unicorns, and anything that we can think of to justify our rejection of what we can’t accept. Sometimes we are just jaded from pain and bad choices. Sometimes we can’t accept what is truly good for us because things have always been bad, and we fall into the trap of believing that things will never be better. Other times we believe we ourselves are so bad that we don’t deserve anything truly good for ourselves. Whatever was the case for the local Nazoreans that day; they seemed to be temporarily able to receive message, but couldn’t permanently embrace it because they couldn’t receive the messenger for more than who they always saw Him to be – young Yeshua, son of Yoseph and Miriam.

If anyone ever wants to know what it means to love some and care about their salvation, they need not look any further than the example of Christ Jesus in the Gospels. In the instant case, rather than giving everyone a big hug for rejecting Him, or being very non-judgmental of them in an apathetic way, Jesus does exactly what He came among us to do – He tells them the truth about themselves. That is precisely what love always does – it cares enough to care! What Jesus essentially tells the locals is that they are a prime example of what has always been wrong God’s chosen people. He does this by contrasting Himself with the prophet Elijah who was sent to the starving widow of Zarephath in the land of Sidon, even though there were starving widows in Israel, and with the prophet Elisha who as sent to heal the leper Naaman of Syria, even though there were lepers in Israel.

The theme that Luke is communicating here is that of the ‘rejected prophet’, which he will continue to develop throughout his Gospel account and into the book of Acts. Over and over again God sends His prophets to a rebellious people who rejects them and kills them. In fact, it’s oftentimes outside of Israel, and in the company of Gentiles that the prophets are better received.

Have you ever noticed how the truth of God tends to make some people violent? In today’s narrative we read that after Jesus told them the truth about themselves, “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 Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”

Here’s a fact – if everyone likes what you have to say, then you probably aren’t saying much at all. It is not a paradoxical statement to say that the truth can get you killed, and God wants you to share the truth. Rather, it is an axiom that the blood of our martyred saints have proved. It is an axiom that our crucified Lord and Savior Christ Jesus has proved. The message from today’s readings is that we ought to speak the truth at all times, and, when necessary, put our life on the line for it.
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PSALMS 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17
In you, O LORD, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me.

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.

For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.

My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.


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Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.