Introduction: One of the ways that Luke looks at Jesus is to call Jesus a prophet. We still have a tendency to think of a prophet as someone who foretells the future. But a prophet is one who speaks on behalf of God. Prophets are called to announce and denounce. Or another definition I like: “Prophets are called to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” In today’s readings we have three prophets announcing and denouncing: Jeremiah, Paul and Jesus. They each paid the price for their steadfastness in their call.
Homily: In the Gospel passage there is a quick change or conversion. At first “all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” But by the end of the reading today we heard: “they were filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill to hurl him down headlong.”
The reason for the mood change in the Gospel is clear. Jesus tells them something that challenges their way of thinking, some of their security. It would seem that they wished to have Jesus become their own private healer. Jesus reminds them from their own history of two examples of God’s graciousness to those outside of Israel. He cites the story of Elijah who was sent to a widow who was not a Jew. She was blessed and received a miracle. He also recalls that Elisha was sent to a leper Naaman the Syrian (another non-Jew). Naaman received his miracle.
Jesus clearly makes the point that there were needy widows and lepers in Israel in those days. But God sent Elijah and Elisha to the non-Jews. In this passage Jesus doesn’t explicitly say he too will extend the Kingdom of God to non-Jews. In the course of the Gospel Jesus will feed hungry people, raise a widow’s son and heal leprosy. But Jesus healing touch will also extend to non Jews. One of the lepers is a “foreigner” Samaritan. He will cure a Roman centurion’s servant. He will attempt to minister in Samaria (9:51-56). In Luke’s second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, the Gospel will spread into more and more non-Jewish areas. Probably the readers of Luke’s Gospel and the Acts were non-Jews (Gentiles). The response to Jesus will be the norm for belonging to the new People of God. It matters not whether you are Jew or non-Jew (Gentile). It matters whether you accept Jesus and his teaching and live it out.
After a violent attempt on his life, Jesus will simply walk away. This foreshadows the end of the Gospel when the violence will take his life on the cross, but even then Jesus will pass through, he will be raised from the grip of death to new life.
Lessons for life: Have you ever in your life experience had a mood change quickly and abruptly, like in the Gospel? A change from amazement to fury? If so, what caused it in another or possibly in you?
Is there some area in my life that Jesus has been challenging me on? Is there something about the way I am living, the attitudes I have, that is not in conformity with the words that Jesus taught and the life that he lived? Am I excluding someone that Jesus would not exclude? Why? What am I called to do about it?
Jesus evades his attackers in this Gospel passage. Ultimately he will evade even their killing of him. He will rise to new life. The promise for us too is that we can pass from hostility and even death to newness of life in Jesus. The people of Jesus time reject him as healer and prophet. Are we able to face that we too might be rejecting something of Jesus and yet asking him for Miracles?
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