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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Today’s Reading | Luke 4:14–30

Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.

When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:

     “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
          because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
     He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
          and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’ And you will say, ‘Do here also in your hometown the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’ ” And he said, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff. But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way. (NRSV)


Reflection

Jesus began his ministry by teaching in Galilee, where he was praised by everyone. It was a different story when he went to Nazareth, where he had grown up. In his hometown synagogue, Jesus read words from Isaiah 61 as his personal mission statement: “The Spirit has anointed me . . .” But he was rejected. Jesus said, “No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” The crowd became enraged because Jesus made an analogy with previous prophets who had been sent by God to a few, faithful persons—those who were receptive. Not everyone received them, just as Jesus’ hearers were rejecting him now.

What is amazing is that when Jesus faced this life-threatening rejection so early on, it did not slow him down. He moves on to minister with the most down-and-out people—the poor, the enslaved, the blind and lame. He includes those outside the Jewish community. He heals lepers, eats with sinners, drinks with outcasts, embraces women as whole people, converts corrupt tax collectors, consoles the suffering, and speaks positively of the despised Samaritans.

Jesus’ ministry becomes our ministry as his followers. When we meet rejection, indifference, or neglect, we are called to extend our love to others who are receptive, to stand for the truth in a new place, to work for justice where it will make a difference. We may find ourselves keeping company with the most unlikely people. God’s Spirit seems to flow wherever God can find an opening, without regard to the world’s judgment as to who is important and who is not.


Prayer

Loving God, give me courage to press on to serve you even when doors close or defeat seems at hand. Open my eyes to see the unexpected, that I will notice where your Spirit is at work. Amen.


Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission


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