JESUS WANTS TO TEACH US HOW TO BECOME PROPHETS AFTER HIS EXAMPLE
(A biblical reflection on the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time [Year C], 30 January 2022)
Gospel Reading: Luke 4:21-30
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19; Psalms: Psalm 71:1-6,15-17; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 12:31-13:13
The Scripture Text
And He began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke well of Him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth; and they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” And He said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to Me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here also in you own country.’” And He said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian. When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. And they rose up and put Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down headlong. But passing through the midst of them He went away. (Luke 4:21-30 RSV)
When you think of a biblical prophet, do you imagine a rather thin, ascetic-looking man who speaks angrily against the sins and evils of his day? In fact, three of the prophets mentioned in today’s readings – Jeremiah, Elijah, and Elisha – might well have fit that description. But what about Jesus?
In this today’s Gospel, Jesus identified Himself as a prophet. However, the image that Jesus gave throughout His ministry would probably be better summed up by today’s second reading, which is all about Christian love. In all His words to the people of Israel, Jesus consistently spoke with the kind of love Paul described in this passage: a love that is patient, kind, and selfless (see 1Corinthians 13:4). So even when He chastised His fellow Nazarenes for not accepting Him, He did it out of a loving concern and even anguish over their hardness of heart.
Think of how Jesus could have responded to His townsfolk’s hostility. He could have lashed out in anger. He could have denounced them as hypocrites. He even could have singled out one or two people He knew well and exposed all their faults and sins just to silence them. But He did not. Instead, He simply walked away and continued His preaching, hoping that some of them might finally accept Him.
Jesus wants to teach us how to become prophets after His example. He wants to show us how to deal with people in the compassion and humility of godly love. It is one thing to learn how to be bold – and Jesus certainly was that. But it is another thing to be able to join that boldness with both shrewdness and gentleness. And the only way that can happen is if we spend time with Jesus. In prayer, let His love melt your heart, even as His words prick your conscience. As you do, you will find yourself becoming just as prophetic as He was.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am awed at the depth of Your love, especially when I look at the shallowness of My love. Fill me, Lord Jesus, and teach me to bring Your word to everyone I meet. Amen.
Jakarta, 29 January 2022
A Christian Pilgrim