Jesus looked like the real ticket for a while, and for the few people he lifted out of their misery by his miracles, he was a godsend. In the end, he appeared to be a failure and a disappointment to his contemporaries. In our current world, he is a nobody. Unbelievers see our preoccupation with Jesus as “hocus-pocus,” sheer nonsense and a waste of time.
According to Luke’s Gospel, Jesus declared in the Nazareth synagogue that he had come to bring’ good news to the poor.’ That was indeed good and consoling news for the poor. Not so for the powerful and privileged who feared the dreams of the poor. St MotherTeresa of Calcutta was once asked why God allowed starving children to be born into destitution and starvation. Her answer: There’s enough food in the world for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed!
Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth may have come from the better-off section of town. He is referred to in Mark’s Gospel as “the carpenter, Mary’s son…” In the ancient Middle East, birth bestowed honour and a person was always referred to as the son or daughter of their father, not their mother. Referring to Jesus as the son of Mary may have been a put-down, as if he were some kind of drifter or illicit person.
The record was set straight as regards his identity when he called himself a prophet: “Prophets are not without honour, except in their own town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” In the biblical tradition prophets spoke out for God and were known to condemn ‘business as usual.’ Business as usual usually meant injustice, the exploitation and cheating of the weak by the strong. People who ignored the cry of the poor found prophets to be an unwelcome intrusion and moved to have them destroyed.
Jesus’ life and preaching turned out to have been mightily unwelcome to the political and religious establishment. His core message was of God’s total commitment in love to people, rich and poor alike – John 3:16. Our response to God’s love is faith and trust in his love and commitment to us. That’s our fundamental requirement as followers of Jesus Christ.
We need to live in such a way as to show the world our trust that the God who raised up Jesus from the darkness of death will lead us through the ups and downs of life.. It’s futile to think that when things go wrong God has withdrawn his love and commitment to us. Things went very wrong in Jesus’ life, and because he trusted and prayed to the one who was able to save him from death, he was heard….. Hebrews 5:7ff.
Jesus began to be rejected at his very conception, and he continued without interruption to be rejected until he breathed his final breath on the Cross. His trust in God’s love throughout his life led to his vindication and the revelation of that love by his Father raising him from the dead. It’s the pattern of faith and trust that believers follow.
Fr. QQ JULY 8 2018