Jesus Announces the Mission of the Church
When you are reading anything, look carefully at what is being said and then look carefully at what is not said. The latter may be more powerful than the former.
First, speaking of what is not said. Actually, we will see it next week. After Jesus says these words, the people are incensed and they decide to throw him over a cliff. So obviously his words do not go over well.
Why would they do that? Simply, they hated his words and through them they hated him. Now it is a good moment to ask who is doing the speaking. You might say Jesus is but you would be wrong. Look carefully, Jesus is speaking in the anointing of the holy spirit. So who is speaking? the Holy Spirit. And who is throwing him over the cliff? The supposed faithful people who are attending synagogue on the Sabbath. They are obedient to the commandment to keep the day holy but they also try to kill violating another commandment and if you understand the reading carefully they are trying to kill God.
Obviously, the fact that this is a synagogue and they are Jewish is irrelevant, what is most important is that they are believers and consider themselves faithful people enough to judge what they consider heresy or not. We learn they are wrong and incensed.
Imagine the following day. “Did you hear what he said at the service yesterday? Who does he think he is?”
Jesus was speaking about proclaiming glad tidings to the poor, liberty to the captives. Who are the poor, the captives, the oppressed? They are the people who do not fit into the society at Jesus’ time and at our time. There are those who are seeking what this world has to offer and they stand in the way. Jesus is saying in the name of God that he has come for those people which means he has not come for the people who are now listening.
If you are looking for an example there are many in the Bible but one obviously is the Samaritan woman. Jesus came and spoke to her and she was marginalized in the world. She was the grave sinner who was despised by everyone in the town. It is to her he went.
Who are the people who listen to Jesus? This is a theme we constantly see in Bible. It is the people who are farthest from the sources of power in a society that Jesus seeks out and those closest to the sources of power seek out Jesus usually in secret.
There is an interesting fact I came to realize a long time ago. Do you know that all dictators have their supporters? Why does Kim Jung Um continue being the dictator of North Korea? Simple, his dictatorship benefits powerful people. If it did not they would other throw him. I learned that in the Philippines. While I was there Ferdinand Marcos had a birthday party for martial law. Eventually, after the assassination of Benigno Aquino his regime fell.
Every society has powerful people who will benefit from the sources of power and will do all they can to keep them in power. This marginalized are there because they do not fit into the sources of power. Jesus comes to tell everyone that these are the people he came to embrace and he is speaking in God’s name.
Is it possible that some of the people who were offended by Jesus’ words were some of the powerful of the society? Probably.
The ones who no one is going to listen to because they did not make it in the world. They did not fit in.
They are not part of our world.
You have a choice to be like them or to reject them. If you are like them you will listen more deeply to Jesus, if you reject them, you will join in trying to send Jesus over a cliff.
Who are the poor, the captives, the people who fall through the cracks? Think that through.
Dorothy Day taught to convert the rich you must be unlike them and to convert the poor you must be like them.
Are we ready to allow ourselves to be challenged by God’s words today? Obviously, start by allowing God to challenge you in his word and in your prayer. Listen to his word in ways that challenge you.
Listen to our world around us, it is filled with rhetoric of how the other is evil. All Republicans are evil and all Democrats are good. Unless you are of the other side in which all Democrats are evil and all Republicans are good. If Jesus stood in congress which group would try to throw him over a cliff. I suspect members of both by the way.
What is it that is going to lead someone to throw Jesus over the cliff?
One reason is the one who has religion all figured out. They stopped listening to Jesus because they figure they already know. That is always a big mistake.
The person who needs to listen to God’s words will hear them, the one who listens to his words for political expediency will pick and choose what he hears. He can recite all the right words but he does not believe them.
If you choose to be open to the words of Christ and put his words into action, you may risk getting thrown over a cliff.
But you will learn that you actually did exactly what you were supposed to be doing and hear the Lord say: “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
This leads me to ask you how you hear God’s words. Will you throw Jesus over a cliff or will you wait for Jesus to hear well done my good and faithful servant.
If you throw Jesus over a cliff, you will be celebrated by your peers. If you wait to hear Jesus say well done my good and faithful servant, you may hear those words after much resistance in your work but which reward do you seek?
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