Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

Author: José Antonio Pagola · Translator: Rosalino Reyes Dizon. .
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Deprived of the prophetic spirit

We know that historically the opposition to Jesus developed slowly:  the distrust of the scribes, the irritation of the teachers of the law and the rejection on the part of Temple leaders grew and led finally to his execution on the cross.

The evangelist Luke knows it too.  But intentionally, forcing even his own account, he speaks about the direct rejection of Jesus at his first act in public that he describes.  The readers must be aware at the outset that rejection is the first reaction that Jesus runs into among his own people as he introduces himself as Prophet.

What took place in Nazareth is not an isolated event, something that happened in the past.  The rejection of Jesus as he presents himself as Prophet of the poor, liberator of the oppressed, and as one who forgives sinners, can keep occurring among his own over the centuries.

It is hard for us followers of Jesus to accept his prophetic dimension.  We forget almost completely something that is important.  God has not been incarnate in a priest who is consecrated to care for the religion of the Temple.  Nor has he become flesh in a scholar of the law whose occupation is to defend the order established by the law.  He has been made flesh and revealed in a Prophet sent by the Spirit to bring the Good News to the poor and liberty to the oppressed.

We forget that Christianity is not just one more religion like any other that arose for the purpose of providing the followers of Jesus with beliefs, rituals and precepts that adequately make for a life of relationship with God.  Rather, it is a prophetic religion that is impelled by the Prophet Jesus to promote a more human world, heading toward its definitive salvation in God.

The risk there is for us Christians is that of neglecting time and again the prophetic dimension that should animate the followers of Jesus.  In spite of the great prophetic manifestations that have been taking place in the history of Christianity, the statement made by renowned theologian H. von Balthasar remains true:  at the end of the second century “frost falls on the (prophetic) spirit of the Church that has not altogether been removed.”

Today, once again, concerned about restoring “the religious” in the face of modern secularization, we Christians run the risk of moving toward the future deprived of the prophetic spirit.  If this is so, what happened to those living in Nazareth can happen to us:  Jesus will pass through our midst and “go away” in order to continue on his way.  Nothing can hinder him from doing his liberating task.  Others, coming from outside, will recognize his prophetic force and welcome his saving action.

José Antonio Pagola

February 3, 2013
4 Ordinary Time (C)
Lucas 4:21-30

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