Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Luke (4:24-30) where Jesus spoke to the people in Nazareth and said, ‘Truly I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his country’.
Fr Paul says, the full impact of this gospel scene becomes apparent only when we remember that it occurs at Nazareth, and it occurs right at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. It is Jesus’ declaration about the opening and setting of his ministry. It is essentially a story of non-conversion: the Nazarenes have been given the chance to be the first recipients of Jesus’ message and they have turned it down. They think they know him, but they really don’t. Jesus will be forced to turn to the gentiles, as did Elijah and Elisha, bringing God’s healing to Syrians rather than to God’s chosen people, Israel.
Fr Paul says, this passage does not occur in the other Gospels. Here Luke is already looking ahead to the gentile mission which he will outline in the Acts of the Apostles. Three times Paul is rejected by the Jews. Three times he is forced to leave the Jews and bring Christ’s message to the gentiles, in Asia, Greece and finally in Rome. Jesus is, after all, the light of the world, not only the glory of his people, Israel.
For today’s reflection, Fr Paul invites us to consider these questions: ‘Do we really know who Jesus is? Do we only accept him when it suits us?’