St Luke beautifully describes the person and life of Jesus, often through dramatic contrasts. These contrasts make Jesus even more accessible to us. They prove Jesus is committed to forming a very close and intimate relationship with us, sustainable in our prayer and daily lives, however lowly we feel.
In his nativity story read on Christmas night, Luke contrasts the raw power of important leaders in the Roman Empire with the poor and humble birth of Jesus born for us in a Bethlehem stable.
Last week, Jesus read from a scroll in the synagogue. He read from the prophet Isaiah to explain his own mission among us. He was anointed and sent to “bring Good News to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to give the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.”
That contrast theme continues in today’s Gospel. Everyone had just been praising Jesus who won the approval of all. But suddenly, everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They tried to throw Jesus down a cliff. So why the massive change in mood?
As a clue, we notice true prophets facing contrasts of selfish pride and humble faith. Jesus himself worked many miracles in the Gentile territory of Capernaum, but in his own Jewish home town of Nazareth he met no faith but only rejection.
Elijah was not sent to a town in Israel but to a poor widow in a Gentile Sidonian town, where he found faith.
Elisha could not work miracles among the lepers in Israel, but found humble faith in Naaman, from Syria.
If we cling to status and privilege of being “Chosen People”, or look down on others, the peace and joy of friendship with Jesus, and the grace of salvation, will pass us by. Luke invites us into Jesus’ mission to spread his Good News to the ends of the earth.
Fr John Jolliffe sm