Monday - Lent Time
1) Opening prayer
Just and holy God,
our loving Father,
you offered us your hand in friendship
and you sent us your Son Jesus
to go with us the road
of obedience and loyalty.
God, we often hurt this friendship,
we act as if we were not your sons and daughters.
See the look of shame on our faces.
Forgive us, for we count on you.
Accept our thanks
for continuing to take us as we are
and loving us notwithstanding our sins.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - Luke 4, 24-30
And Jesus went on, 'In truth I
tell you, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
'There were many widows in Israel,
I can assure you, in Elijah's day, when heaven remained shut for three years
and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land, but Elijah was not
sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a town in
Sidonia. And in the prophet Elisha's time there were many suffering from virulent
skin-diseases in Israel, but none of these was cured -- only Naaman the
When they heard this everyone in
the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the
town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on,
intending to throw him off the cliff, but he passed straight through the crowd
and walked away.
Today’s Gospel (Lk 4, 24-30) forms part of a larger part (Lk 4, 14-32) Jesus
had presented his program in the Synagogue of Nazareth, using a text from
Isaiah which spoke about the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed
(Is 61, 1-2) and which mirrored the situation of the people of Galilee at the
time of Jesus. In the name of God, Jesus takes a stand and defines his mission:
to proclaim the Good News to the poor, to proclaim liberation to prisoners, to
give back their sight to the blind, to restore liberty to the oppressed. After
finishing the reading, he updated the text and says: “Today this
text is being fulfilled even while you are listening. !” (Lk 4, 21). All those
present were astonished (Lk 4, 16, 22b). But immediately after there was a
reaction of discredit. The people in the Synagogue were scandalized and did not
want to know anything about Jesus. They said: “Is he not the son of Joseph?”
(Lk 4, 22b). Why were they scandalized? Which is the reason for this unexpected
Because Jesus quoted the text of Isaiah only to the part that says: “to
proclaim a year of favour from the Lord”, and he omits the end of the
sentence which says: “to proclaim a day of vengeance for our God” (Is
61, 2). The people of Nazareth remained surprised because Jesus omitted the
phrase on vengeance. They wanted the Good News of the liberation of the
oppressed to be an action of vengeance on the part of God against the
oppressors. In this case the coming of the Kingdom would be only a superficial
change, and not a change or conversion of the system. Jesus does not accept
this way of thinking. His experience of God the Father helps him to understand
better the significance of the prophecies. He takes away the vengeance. The
people of Nazareth do not accept that proposal and the authority of Jesus
begins to diminish: “Is he not Joseph’s son?”
Luke 4, 24: No prophet is ever accepted in his own country. The people
of Nazareth was jealous because of the miracles which Jesus had worked in
Capernaum, because he had not worked them in Nazareth. Jesus answers: “No
prophet is ever accepted in his own country!” In fact, they did not accept the
new image of God which Jesus communicated to them through this new and freer
interpretation of Isaiah. The message of the God of Jesus went beyond the
limits of the race of the Jews and opened itself to accept the excluded and the
Luke 4, 25-27: Two stories of the Old Testament. In order to help the
community to overcome the scandal and to understand the universality of God,
Jesus uses two well known stories of the Old Testament: one of Elijah and the
other one of Elisha. Through these stories he criticized the people of Nazareth
who were so closed up in themselves. Elijah was sent to the foreign widow of
Zarephah (1 Kg 17, 7-16). Elisha was sent to take care of the foreigner of
Syria (2 Kg 5, 14).
Luke 4, 28-30: They intended to throw him off the cliff, but he passed
straight through the crowd and walked away. What Jesus said did not calm
down the people. On the contrary! The use of these two passages of the Bible also
caused them to get more angry. The community of Nazareth reached the point of
wanting to kill Jesus. And thus, at the moment in which he presented his
project to accept the excluded, Jesus himself was excluded! But he remained
calm! The anger of the others did not succeed to make him change his mind. In
this way, Luke indicates that it is difficult to overcome the mentality of
privilege which is closed up in itself. And he showed that the polemic attitude
of the Pagans already existed in the time of Jesus. Jesus had the same
difficulty which the Hebrew community had in the time of Luke.
4) Personal questions
Is Jesus’ program also my program, our program? Is my attitude that of Jesus or
that of the people of Nazareth?
Who are those excluded whom we should accept better in our community?
5) Concluding Prayer
My whole being yearns
and pines for Yahweh's courts,
My heart and my body cry out
for joy to the living God. (Ps 84,2)