Feb. 3, 2013
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
or 13:4-13
Luke 4:21-30

Most of us think that we know our friends and our neighbors very well. High school yearbooks are filled with predictions about the future of the graduates. Reunions tell a different story. Almost all of us have been surprised to learn that a classmate we considered very ordinary has achieved honor in ways we could not imagine. How could that happen? We are even more astonished when the youngster from down the street is the director of a corporation where we are applying for a job.

The reaction of those gathered in the synagogue when Jesus spoke should not surprise us. It was a small community by our standards. Those who belonged to it knew one another and the families from which they came. They had a sense of history. Jesus seemed an ordinary child who belonged to an ordinary family. They did not expect great things of him. But now, suddenly, he was working miracles in Capernaum and speaking profound truths in their midst. If this man could work miracles and speak with such power, he should save those powers for them and not waste them on the Gentiles and the rejected. When Jesus told them that God has no favorites they turned against him in disappointment and ran him out of town.

The Jews had been waiting for centuries for a Messiah to rescue them from oppression. They expected someone who would return them to the glorious days of King David. They were not looking for someone who came from an ordinary background or would do things like heal the sick or — worse yet — associate with sinners.

It is significant that Jesus chose the passage of Isaiah as the hallmark of his ministry. No matter how those first listeners heard the message, this was good news for all the generations that would follow. The Messiah would reach out to the lowly, the brokenhearted, the captive...the disenfranchised of society. These are the same people that we are called to address. Our stance, like Jesus’ entire message, is a threat to accepted standards. Our God is a God of universal love and equally available to all humanity. This is the love proclaimed in the Second Reading.

There are those who would say that those with whom we do not agree are not worthy of our consideration. There are others who would say that we are not worthy of their consideration. We belong to this world and we have divided loyalties. We live in a world whose message is seductive. We live in a world that will frequently reject us. The Second Reading seems an antidote to that kind of thinking. Love is the answer. Today we are challenged to bring that love to all people.