4th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 30 January 2022 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Responsorial: Psalm 71; II: I Corinthians 12: 31- 13:13; Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
Our reading from the Gospel of Luke today shares the account of Jesus reading in the synagogue in Nazareth and after explaining the reading from Isaiah prophecy is pushed out of the place he worshipped as a boy and the townspeople seek to cast him off the cliff of the town. It is an early and sad account of the rejection Jesus would face as he sought to proclaim and bring God’s Kingdom to the world. This early, violent rejection was but a bitter taste of what was to come. But why? What did Christ say that so infuriated the people of his hometown?
Jesus in the synagogue that Sabbath said but a few words. But what he did say powerfully confronted the little faith and equally little scope of the listener’s relationship with God. As their smallness was confronted they responded as many of us may do with protest and bitter anger. It would have been much better received if the Christ would have confronted the sins and failures of others outside the synagogue, the Romans, the lapsed Jews, anyone but those in attendance. This dramatic break in the relationship of those of Nazareth and their hometown boy is a sad lesson in how our relationship with and awareness of God, if weak or restricted, can cause us to reject and wound God who we would worship. It brings us to prayerfully consider a vital question. In my heart, my mind, and my soul, my life, who, what is God, to me?
Over the ages, many souls, great and perhaps self-presumed as great, have sought to answer that question. In our own age, there is an incredible array of expertise ready to answer that question, “God is??? for us. And as we apply ourselves to many of these sources we may find our minds and hearts with confusion and doubt. But it is helpful and important to remember that God is beyond our human understanding. God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is so infinite in awe and beauty that to attempt to explain or reduce God to the paradigms we construct would be futile at best. But if we remember God is one in three persons and that while we cannot understand that truth we can relate, and that we are called to love to our Creator, Savior, God.
Our relationship with, our growing in our realization of who God is, can be brought into a clarity that can grow for us for all eternity as we faithfully look to and embrace our second reading from I Corinthians. The “Love Chapter” is often relegated to the marriage ceremony where it is read, or maybe sung and then often forgotten. But it is Holy Spirit infused Truth for our walk with God, daily.
To help better immerse our lives, our relationship with Jesus into this power let us take some literary license that is very solid in Biblical Truth. In I John 4:16 we read:
“So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
As we take this holy grace and apply it to I Corinthians 13 we can realize something profound. We may faithfully read:
“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have God, I am a resounding gong or clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have God, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have God, I gain nothing.
God is patient, God is kind. God is not jealous, is not pompous, is not inflated. God is not rude, does not seek selfish interests, God is not quick-tempered, does not brood over injury, God does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
God never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child; think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is…God.“
The people in the synagogue of Nazareth that day were faced with Jesus, they were faced with Love beyond their imaginations and understanding. And they were offended and scared so that they sought to cast him away from the cliff. So Jesus calls us to Himself, and to turn away from our failed understandings. He calls us to follow Him to another hill. He call us to follow Love. May we each, together, grow in our realization and relationships of this holy truth. God is Love.
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