NOTE: On Saturdays, I will now be posting reflections for the Saturday evening and Sunday morning Mass readings. Sundays will continue to be special topics based on relevant current events, and weekdays will continue to focus on a given book of the Bible (which is currently Ephesians).
On the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, from the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus was speaking at the synagogue in Nazareth, His hometown:
He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
…And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place…
When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away. -Luke 4:20-21,24,28-30 , NAB
The lesson from this week’s Gospel is simple: a prophet is rarely accepted in their own hometown. Even Jesus, our beloved Savior and Messiah, was not accepted in His hometown of Nazareth. In fact, the people of Nazareth actually drove Him out of town.
Have you ever experienced this? Have you noticed that sharing your faith with those closest to you can sometimes be difficult – especially if you converted to the faith later in life? You’re not alone; I know exactly how this feels.
The people of Nazareth had long known Jesus as the son of Joseph, an average carpenter. Accepting Him now as a prophet, especially as the Messiah, was more than they could handle. They could not accept the revelation of Christ’s true identity.
When you reveal your identity as a Christian, there are some that will not accept it. First, they may be biased against Christianity to begin with. Second, they already know you, and it may be beyond their ability to see you for who you’ve become. Realize that this is not your because of your shortcomings – but theirs.
There may come a time when people you know and love reject you for your faith, just as the people of Nazareth drove Jesus out of town. Do not be discouraged if this happens. In fact, expect that it may happen in some relationships.
A hometown prophet is rarely well-received. So do as Jesus did: move on. Take the message of the Gospel to new towns, new faces, new people. Your hometown may reject your identity, but there is a whole world out there that is waiting to meet your new identity for the very first time.