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Luke 4:24-30

The Word of God

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.

Luke 4:24-30
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Pope Francis suggested recently that Naaman, the Syrian warrior, is an image of the Church in its present difficulties. The bible story shows that he was a man of great deeds, but had leprosy, just as the Church does great work but suffers from the cancer of clericalism. He is however, humble enough to ask for help: it comes from below, from a nobody, a Jewish slave-girl, who tells him that the God of the Hebrews can bring him healing.
    • Naaman travels to Israel with great wealth, to buy his healing. But the prophet gives him one simple, humble task: he is to bathe in the Jordan seven times. He refuses and starts his homeward journey. But again the saving word comes from below: his servants persuade him to do what he is told. He removes his armour—symbol of human power—bathes, and finds his flesh restored ‘like the flesh of a little child’.
    • May it be that the healing of the Church will come only from our listening to the poor and humble of the earth? Through the listening process of the Synod may I become a good listener, and hear well the marginalised, those whose views I would often ignore? May each of us in our Synodal meetings put aside our armour and become ‘like a little child’, for it is to such that the Kingdom of God belongs.
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    • When Jesus first proclaimed the good news of God's kingdom to his own townspeople at Nazareth, he was met with angry incredulity. Their very familiarity with him blinded them to his colossal mission. Many of us have been familiar with the words of Jesus from childhood. We have heard the narratives, the sermons, the parables so often that it is difficult to imagine it the way Paul describes it, ‘The word of God is living and active’.
    • Holy Spirit, when I next open the Bible, I pray that you will set the words on fire for me.
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    • Grace from the Latin word means free, a gift, not earned. Have you experienced a ‘call’ to you from God? Would you like to have God call you? If so, what might this call involve?
    • ‘No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.’ Who are the modern day prophets in our world today and what is their message? Do I listen to their message, or do I react with rage and drive them away, as was the case with Jesus? Can I take a moment to be honest with myself and with Jesus now.
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    • Many achieve more among strangers than in their native place. They haven’t to endure any family prejudice against them. Locals often don’t accept one of their own.
    • God, however, is always searching especially for the one who will receive him. Elijah went out of his way to the widow in Sidon. Elisha cured no leper in Israel, but Naaman the Syrian. There needs to be some spiritual opening in a person for God to act in a miraculous way.
    • The people of Nazareth wanted Jesus to perform miracles in his native place, but Jesus could see no indication that they were worthy to be given such a favour.
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    • This is about the expectation of miracles and cures. The self-important Naaman feels he has been slighted: he meets only a messenger, not the prophet himself; and the cure depends on Naaman washing himself in the river, instead of receiving hands-on treatment by Elisha.
    • I am the same, Lord. Even in my neediness my ego pushes through. I want to be not just a victim but a celebrity victim. I want not just a cure, but to be the centre of attention. Help me to centre on you, not on me.
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    • The people in question here were jealous of their community of faith. Jesus was including all nationalities in the care and the saving love of God. They were jealous of their own relationship with God, and used it in many ordinary ways to keep others out of favour, off land and denied human rights to anyone outside their circle. Jesus is the one of universal welcome, his heart open in prayer and life to all, no matter their creed, nation, gender, age or any of the categories with which we are divided from each other.
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    • The reality of non-acceptance was part of Jesus’ life: from the first moments he was rejected by many. When he left their town, some hoped he would come back, or followed after him. Our prayer is a time of following him in the silence and in the personal desires of our hearts.
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    • The people in Jesus’ home town thought they knew him so well that there was nothing new he had to say to them. How often do I fail to pay real attention to those close to me? Might I be missing something very important in another person and not know it? God can speak to us in the most unexpected way and through the most unexpected people.
    • Lord, give me eyes that see and ears that hear - this day and every day of my life.
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    • Jesus, you experienced rejection from those close to you whom you were trying to help. Did you feel shocked, angry, unsure, depressed? How do I feel when others reject me? What did you do with your feelings? You went off to serve others, with the same risk of rejection again. Help me not to give in to despair when a relationship is difficult.
    • When I hear things that hurt my pride, do I attack the speakers and drive them away? Lord, let me be more humble. Let me seek to know the truth about myself, even though it may be painful. Only the truth will set me free.
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    • In this healing story we find care for the outsider - the outsider by nationality and also by culture. The foreigner was outcast to the Pharisee, and the widow was one of the neglected groups. Jesus' mission was to all, especially the lost sheep and the ‘pagans'. Befriending the outsider may result in being cast out by one's own group. We pray for people in that situation, at home and in the wider world.
    • The people in question here were jealous of their community of faith. Jesus was including all nationalities in the care and the saving love of God. They were jealous of their own relationship with God, and used it in many ordinary ways to keep others out of favour, off land and denied human rights to anyone outside their circle. Jesus is the one of universal welcome, his heart open in prayer and life to all, no matter their creed, nation, gender, age or any of the categories with which we are divided from each other.
    • The people of Jesus hometown had come to their conclusions; they left no room for him to work in a new way. I bring my fixed ideas before God, that I may let go of them a little, praying that they not blind me to the movement of God's spirit.
    • The people who listened to Jesus' message were able to accept it only if it did not reflect negatively on them. I allow myself to hear any message from God which calls me to growth. I accept that I am on a journey and have not arrived yet.
    • Jesus hearers' did not seem to like the reminder of the importance of other nations; perhaps they had grown to think themselves superior. I ask God to help me to correct any false notions I have about myself or about my people.