4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

COMMENTARYCATENA AUREADISCUSSION


In Brief

Our Sunday Visitor

  • In today’s passage from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus meets with great opposition from the people of his hometown.
  • Jesus cites two examples in which prophets left the covenant people and worked miracles for Gentiles.
  • The people from Jesus’ hometown can not bear the truth that God’s Word moves freely anywhere God chooses.

Cross References

OT: Lev 25: 8–55; 1 Kings 17: 8–24; 2 Kings 5: 1–15; Isa 58: 6; 61: 1–2
NT: Luke 3: 22–23; James 5: 17. // Matt 4: 12; 13: 54–58; Mark 1: 14; 6: 1–6; John 4: 43–44

SOURCE: The Gospel of Luke (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture) by Pablo T. Gadenz

Jesus Returns Home

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Jesus came to His hometown of Nazareth and attended the Sabbath day (Saturday) service in the local Synagogue. It was “His custom” to keep the Sabbath command by coming to the Synagogue when He wasn’t in Jerusalem to attend the Temple liturgy (see Lk 4:16). The Synagogue’s president had the authority to ask any male of the covenant to read and expound on the Scripture passage to the congregation. He asked Jesus to stand and read for that Saturday Sabbath service.

Jesus, the “Anointed One”

The passage Jesus read was from the Greek Septuagint translation of the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2, 

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings [good news = gospel] to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord”  (Lk 4:18-19; see last Sunday’s Gospel reading).

After reading Isaiah 61:1-2 from the Septuagint translation of the scroll of the 8th-century BC prophet Isaiah, Jesus made a startling announcement. He told the congregation that He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. Jesus revealed to His neighbors that He was the promised “Anointed One” that Isaiah wrote about in this passage. Therefore, He had the authority to proclaim an extraordinary divine Jubilee liberation for the people of God as described in the prophecy.

“Anointed One” is the meaning of the word “Messiah” and refers to one anointed with God’s Spirit, just as God’s prophets, priests, and kings, like King David, were “the anointed of God.”  Jesus then declared to the congregation His role as the chosen servant of God that Isaiah wrote about, the One “anointed” with the Spirit to bring justice to the earth.

SOURCE: Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study. Used with permission.

Initial Response from People

All spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: St. Luke begins the prologue to his gospel by mentioning that other gospels also record the events of Jesus’ life.  Some scholars count as many as 34 different gospels written within the first 2-3 centuries of the Church while others count more.  However, the Church has always maintained from its earliest years that only the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were Holy Spirit inspired.


“Isn’t this the son of Joseph?

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Their comment was not necessarily a negative response to Jesus’s announcement, as the little proverb He quoted next proves. Despite their favorable response to His announcement, Jesus knew their thoughts and their desire for some miracle to prove His claim.

Where Jesus was 

BACKGROUND TO CAPERNAUM

SERMON WRITER:  Matthew tells us that Jesus left Nazareth “and lived in Capernaum, which is by the sea” at the very beginning of his ministry, even before he called his disciples (Matthew 4:13). Mark has him teaching and working miracles in Capernaum at the very beginning of his ministry (Mark 1:21-34). John has him going to Capernaum immediately after working his first miracle in Cana (John 2:12). It seems almost certain that, by the time Jesus addresses the Nazareth congregation, he is living in Capernaum rather than Nazareth.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Capernaum was the hometown of Simon-Peter, his brother Andrew, and the brothers John and James Zebedee. The first-century AD Jewish priest-historian, Flavius Josephus, wrote that Capernaum had natural springs and was one of the most important towns in the region. It was also the major commercial and population center on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee (Jewish Wars, 3.10.8 [519].  Many fishermen like Peter, formerly from Bethsaida, located their fishing business there since there was a processing business for salting and shipping fish in nearby Taricheae (“preserved fish town”). The Romans made contracts with local fishermen for shipping salt-preserved fish and manufactured fish sauce to parts of the Roman Empire. Capernaum became the headquarters for Jesus’ Galilean ministry.

Nazareth’s Expectations

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  The people of Nazareth heard of the miracles Jesus worked for the people of Capernaum. They were expecting the same benefit of miracles for their community,

SERMON WRITER:  It is a call for Jesus to match his “gracious words” (v. 22) with great deeds. Capernaum has many Gentiles among its population and is thus (in Jewish minds) less deserving. Now that Jesus is among his own people—God’s people—Nazareth expects great things of him.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY: Jesus [thus] quoted them a little secular proverb that was a well-known maxim in antiquity. It was usually employed in an argument to insist that one must not do favors for others that are refused to one’s people or that one must not benefit another by refusing the same benefits to one’s own family or community.


Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,'” and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’

DR. KIERAN O’MAHONY, OSA:  Jesus has not yet been to Capernaum in this Gospel, so the observation in v. 24 seems out of sequence, revealing an awareness that the synagogue story actually belongs later in the Gospel narrative.

SERMON WRITER:  Luke places this story at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry, not because of concern for chronology, but because this story is a paradigm for Jesus’ ministry and for the ministry of the church in the book of Acts (also written by Luke). It is the story of Jesus and the early church writ small so we might see it at a glance.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  The initial admiration and acceptance Jesus received followed by the subsequent rejection of His message and the attempt to kill Him by the people of his hometown foreshadows the whole future of His ministry. At first, the Jews of Judah and Israelites of Galilee will gladly receive Jesus’s healings, miraculous acts, and teachings. But then the opposition will grow until His rejection by many of His countrymen and women will succeed in having Him put to death. Jesus’s death and resurrection will lead to the birth of the Kingdom of the “new Israel” of the New Covenant Church. His Apostles and disciples, as His ministers of the Universal Church of Jesus Christ, will carry His Gospel message of salvation to the “ends of the earth” to the Gentile nations (as prophesied by St. Simeon in Lk 1:30-32 and commanded by Jesus in Mt 28:19; Lk 24:47-48 and Acts 1:8).

No Prophet is Accepted…

“No prophet is accepted in his own native place.”

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  But what did Jesus mean by quoting this maxim? The answer is in the passages Jesus then refers to from the ministry of the prophets Elijah and Elisha in 1 Kings 17:9-24 and 2 Kings 5:1-14. Jesus told the congregation:

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  Jesus has put Himself in the same class as the prophets Elijah and Elisha whose stories He referenced: He is a prophet. And, as a prophet, He is predicting the historical precedent that all God’s prophets, throughout salvation history, have been rejected by their countrymen. Jesus’s point is that the people of Nazareth’s previously formed perception of Him as only a member of their community that they have known since He was a child will inhibit their faith in Him as the Messiah. Their assumptions about Him will also impede the vision of who He is and what He has come to accomplish.

Clipart by Fr. Richard Lonsdale © 2000. Click on image to also view clipart for this Sunday’s first and second reading.


Jesus  cites the works of two prophets who their countrymen rejected…

In the Days of Elijah…

1“Many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years, and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath…”

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:   In the days of Elijah, the people turned away from God; they rejected His prophets, apostatized from their covenant with Yahweh, and gave themselves up to worship the false god Baal (1 Kings 16:29-33). God punished the Israelites for their sins by withholding the rains, and famine spread over the land (1 Kings 17:1). But God did not send the prophet Elijah to help the Israelites who had rejected Him. Instead, God sent Elijah to the city of Sidon to help a Gentile widow (see 1 Kings 17:2, 9-24). Sidon was one of the oldest Phoenician cities on the Mediterranean coast about 20 miles north of Tyre (near modern-day Beirut).


In the Days of Elisha…

2“Many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian…”

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  In the second example, Jesus cited the story of Elijah’s successor, the prophet Elisha and his intervention in the life of the Gentile army commander of the King of Aram. When the King of Aram sent a letter with his general requesting that an Israelite prophet he had heard about could heal his general of leprosy, the King of Israel did not think to send for Elisha to heal Commander Naaman. However, Elisha offered to provide the healing for the man as evidence that “there is a prophet in Israel” (see 2 Kings 5:1-14). Out of desperation and not belief, the King of Israel sent Naaman to Elisha. When Elisha healed the Aramean of his leprosy, Naaman acknowledged “there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel.”

Nazareth’s Rejection

They rose up, drove him out of the town…  

DR. BRANT PITRE: So what’s the common link between both of those stories? The common link is that at the time of both Eli’jah and Eli’sha, the tribes of Israel were so wicked that the prophet brought the blessing to a Gentile instead of to Israel. Eli’jah brought the blessing to a Gentile widow, Eli’sha brought the blessing to a Gentile general, an officer in the Gentile army of Syria. So what’s the upshot of Jesus’ quotation of those two passages? It’s that “You, people of Nazareth, are like the wicked Israelites at the time of Eli’jah and Eli’sha. You are going to reject me as a prophet and the blessing and the good news is going to come from me and it’s going to end up going to pagans. It’s going to go out to the Gentiles.” And that’s what makes them mad. That’s what makes them furious.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  Jesus’s implied threat was not lost on the people of Nazareth: when the covenant people reject the works of God through His prophets, God sends His prophets to do His works among the Gentiles. The suggestion that their rejection of Jesus could also lead to the offer of God’s grace to the Gentiles enraged the Israelites of Nazareth. However, they might also have tried to kill Him because they judged Him to be a false prophet for refusing to do a miracle for them.


…and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong

SERMON WRITER: This could be a stoning procedure—accomplished by pushing a person over a cliff or into a low place so that the crowd can stand above and throw stones. Leviticus 24:14 required such stonings to take place outside of town (see also Acts 7:58; 14:19). Stoning is appropriate for a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1-11). However, it is also possible that the crowd is simply functioning as an enraged mob with no agenda other than venting rage and eliminating its source.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  The “brow of the hill” mentioned in verse 29 has been problematic since no topographical feature could be found in present-day Nazareth to correspond to this description. However, excavations have uncovered a rock formation below the surface of modern Nazareth buried by later building on the site that could fit the description of the hill in the passage (McKenzie, “Nazareth,” page 608).


Jesus Escapes

But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

AGAPE BIBLE STUDY:  When the townspeople attempted to kill Jesus, He miraculously “passed through” the crowd and went away. What was ironic about Jesus escaping the wrath of the Nazoreans is that they wanted Jesus to perform a miracle for them. His disappearing from them was the only miracle they would ever witness in their town.

✏️ ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
  • SERMON WRITER: As stated above, this story is a paradigm for the rest of Jesus’ ministry—and also for the ministry of the early church in the book of Acts. Luke will tell other stories of miraculous escapes:
    • An angel will free Peter from prison (Acts 12:6-11).
    • The crowds will stone Paul and leave him for dead, but he will revive and continue to Derbe where he will resume his ministry (Acts 14:19-20).
    • An earthquake will free Paul and Silas from prison, resulting in the conversion of the jailer and his household (Acts 16:25-34).
    • Forty Jews will form a conspiracy against Paul and bind themselves to an oath to kill him, but they were unable to lay a hand on him (Acts 23:12-22).

 

✏️ APPLICATION
  • FR. JOHN McKINNON – Over the years, we as Church have also concentrated so much on the details of what we believe. Learning the Catechism was the big deal. But nothing like the catechism figured in what Jesus proclaimed. He focused on the non-negotiability of loving and how to do it. Paul got the message. As we heard today, “If I speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing.” Is it high time that we learnt, as disciples of the merciful, non-violent Jesus, the concrete skills, for example, of restorative justice, reconciliation and  other non-violent action for justice? Is it time to introduce into our school curricula, and make time for, such subjects as peace studies?

 

Commentary on the Four Gospels,
Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, by Saint Thomas Aquinas

LUKE 4:22-27

22. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?

23. And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.

24. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.

25. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;

26. But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

27. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. 48. in Matt.) When our Lord came to Nazareth, He refrains from miracles, lest He should provoke the people to greater malice. But He sets before them His teaching no less wonderful than His miracles. For there was a certain ineffable grace in our Saviour’s words which softened the hearts of the hearers. Hence it is said, And they all bare him witness.

BEDE. They bare Him witness that it was truly He, as He had said, of whom the prophet had spoken.

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) But foolish men though wondering at the power of His words little esteemed Him because of His reputed father. Hence it follows, And they said, Is not this the son of Joseph?

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. But what prevents Him from filling men with awe, though He were the Son as was supposed of Joseph? Do you not see the divine miracles, Satan already prostrate, men released from their sickness?

CHRYSOSTOM. (ubi sup.) For though after a long time and when He had begun to shew forth His miracles, He came to them; they did not receive Him, but again were inflamed with envy. Hence it follows, And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. It was a common proverb among the Hebrews, invented as a reproach, for men used to cry out against infirm physicians, Physician, heal thyself.

GLOSS. (ordin.) It was as if they said, We have heard that you performed many cures in Capernaum; cure also thyself, i. e. Do likewise in your own city, where you were nourished and brought up.

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. lib. ii. 42.) But since St. Luke mentions that great things had been already done by Him, which he knows he had not yet related, what is more evident than that he knowingly anticipated the relation of them. For he had not proceeded so far beyond our Lord’s baptism as that he should be supposed to have forgotten that he had not yet related any of those things which were done in Capernaum.

AMBROSE. But the Saviour purposely excuses Himself for not working miracles in His own country, that no one might suppose that love of country is a thing to be lightly esteemed by us. For it follows, But he says, Verily I say unto you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. As if He says, You wish me to work many miracles among you, in whose country I have been brought up, but I am aware of a very common failing in the minds of many. To a certain extent it always happens, that even the very best things are despised when they fall to a man’s lot, not scantily, but ever at his will. So it happens also with respect to men. For a friend who is ever at hand, does not meet with the respect due to him.

BEDE. Now that Christ is called a Prophet in the Scriptures, Moses bears witness, saying, God shall raise up a Prophet unto you from among your brethren. (Deut. 18:15.)

AMBROSE. But this is given for an example, that in vain can you expect the aid of Divine mercy, if you grudge to others the fruits of their virtue. The Lord despises the envious, and withdraws the miracles of His power from them that are jealous of His divine blessings in others. For our Lord’s Incarnation is an evidence of His divinity, and His invisible things are proved to us by those which are visible. See then what evils envy produces. For envy a country is deemed unworthy of the works of its citizen, which was worthy of the conception of the Son of God.

ORIGEN. As far as Luke’s narrative is concerned, our Lord is not yet said to have worked any miracle in Capernaum. For before He came to Capernaum, He is said to have lived at Nazareth. I cannot but think therefore that in these words, “whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum,” there lies a mystery concealed, and that Nazareth is a type of the Jews, Capernaum of the Gentiles. For the time will come when the people of Israel shall say, “The things which thou hast shewn to the whole world, shew also to us.” Preach thy word to the people of Israel, that then at least, when the fulness of the Gentiles has entered, all Israel may be saved. Our Saviour seems to me to have well answered, No prophet is accepted in his own country, but rather according to the type than the letter; though neither was Jeremiah accepted in Anathoth his country, nor the rest of the Prophets. But it seems rather to be meant that we should say, that the people of the circumcision were the countrymen of all the Prophets. And the Gentiles indeed accepted the prophecy of Jesus Christ, esteeming Moses and the Prophets who preached of Christ, far higher than they who would not from these receive Jesus.

AMBROSE. By a very apt comparison the arrogance of envious citizens is put to shame, and our Lord’s conduct shewn to agree with the ancient Scriptures. For it follows, But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias: not that the days were his, but that he performed his works in them.

CHRYSOSTOM. He himself, an earthly angel, a heavenly man, who had neither house, nor food, nor clothing like others, carries the keys of the heavens on his tongue. And this is what follows, When the heaven was shut. But as soon as he had closed the heavens and made the earth barren, hunger reigned and bodies wasted away, as it follows, when there was a famine through the land.

BASIL. (Hom. 2. de jejun. Hom. de fame.) For when he beheld the great disgrace that arose from universal plenty, he brought a famine that the people might fast, by which he checked their sin which was exceeding great. But crows were made the ministers of food to the righteous, which are wont to steal the food of others.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. in Pet. et Eli.) But when the stream was dried up by which the cup of the righteous man was filled, God said, Go to Sarepta, a city of Sidon; there I wall command a widow woman to feed you. As it follows, But to none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And this was brought to pass by a particular appointment of God. For God made him go a long journey, as far as Sidon, in order that having seen the famine of the country he should ask for rain from the Lord. But there were many rich men at that time, but none of them did any thing like the widow. For in the respect shewn by the woman toward the prophet, consisted her riches not of lands, but of good will.

AMBROSE. But he says in a mystery, “In the days of Elias,” because Elias brought the day to them who saw in his works the light of spiritual grace, and so the heaven was opened to them that beheld the divine mystery, but was shut when there was famine, because there was no fruitfulness in acknowledging God. But in that widow to whom Elias was sent was prefigured a type of the Church.

ORIGEN. For when a famine came upon the people of Israel, i. e. of hearing the word of God, a prophet came to a widow, of whom it is said, For the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband; (Isa. 54:1, Gal. 4:27.) and when he had come, he multiplies her bread and her nourishment.

BEDE. Sidonia signifies a vain pursuit, Sarepta fire, or scarcity of bread. By all which things the Gentiles are signified, who, given up to vain pursuits, (following gain and worldly business,) were suffering from the flames of fleshly lusts, and the want of spiritual bread, until Elias, (i. e. the word of prophecy,) now that the interpretation of the Scriptures had ceased because of the faithlessness of the Jews, came to the Church, that being received into the hearts of believers he might feed and refresh them.

BASIL. (Hom. in div.) Every widowed soul, bereft of virtue and divine knowledge, as soon as she receives the divine word, knowing her own failings, learns to nourish it with the bread of virtue, and to water the teaching of virtue from the fountain of life.

ORIGEN. He cites also another similar example, adding, And there were many lepers in Israel at the time of Eliseus the Prophet, and none of them were cleansed but Naaman the Syrian, who indeed was not of Israel.

AMBROSE. Now in a mystery the people pollute the Church, that another people might succeed, gathered together from foreigners, leprous indeed at first before it is baptized in the mystical stream, but which after the sacrament of baptism, washed from the stains of body and soul, begins to be a virgin without spot or wrinkle.

BEDE. For Naaman, which means beautiful, represents the Gentile people, who is ordered to be washed seven times, because that baptism saves which the seven-fold Spirit renews. His flesh after washing began to appear as a child’s, because grace like a mother begets all to one childhood, or because he is conformed to Christ, of whom it is said, Unto us a Child is born. (Isa. 9:6.)


LUKE 4:28-30

28. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,

29. And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down head-long.

30. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.

CYRIL OF ALEXANDRIA. He convicted them of their evil intentions, and therefore they are enraged, and hence what follows, And all they in the synagogue when they heard these things were filled with wrath. Because He had said, This day is this prophecy fulfilled, they thought that He compared Himself to the prophets, and are therefore enraged, and expel Him out of their city, as it follows, And they rose up, and cast him out.

AMBROSE. It can not be wondered at that they lost their salvation who cast the Saviour out of their city. But the Lord who taught His Apostles by the example of Himself to be all things to all men, neither repels the willing, nor chooses the unwilling; neither struggles against those who cast Him out, nor refuses to hear those who supplicate Him. But that conduct was the result of no slight enmity, which, forgetful of the feelings of fellow citizens, converts the causes of love into the bitterest hatred. For when the Lord Himself was extending His blessings among the people, they began to inflict injuries upon Him, as it follows, And they led him unto the brow of the hill, that they might cast him down.

BEDE. Worse are the Jewish disciples than their master the Devil. For he says, Cast thyself down; they actually attempt to cast Him down. But Jesus having suddenly changed His mind, or seized with astonishment, went away, since He still reserves for them a place of repentance. Hence it follows, He passing through the midst of them went his way.

CHRYSOSTOM. (48. in Joann.) Herein He shews both His human nature and His divine. To stand in the midst of those who were plotting against Him, and not be seized, betokened the loftiness of His divinity; but His departure declared the mystery of the dispensation, i. e. His incarnation.

AMBROSE. At the same time we must understand that this bodily endurance was not necessary, but voluntary. When He wills, He is taken, when He wills, He escapes. For how could He be held by a few who was not held by a whole people? But He would not have the impiety to be the deed of the many, in order that by a few indeed He might be afflicted, but might die for the whole world. Moreover, He had still rather heal the Jews than destroy them, that by the fruitless issue of their rage they might be dissuaded from wishing what they could not accomplish.

BEDE. The hour of His Passion had not yet come, which was to be on the preparation of the Passover, nor had He yet come to the place of His Passion, which not at Nazareth, but at Jerusalem, was prefigured by the blood of the victims; nor had He chosen this kind of death, of whom it was prophesied that He should be crucified by the world.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

RELATED:  THE COMPLETE ANTE-NICENE & NICENE AND POST-NICENE CHURCH FATHERS COLLECTION (ecatholic2000.com)

RELATED:  LIBRARY OF CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN CLASSICS  (ecatholic2000.com)

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.
WORD-SUNDAY (3:48) – Larry Broding
YOU CAN’T GO HOME – One of the sad lessons we learn as young adults is change. The home and family that seemed would be there for our support transforms. The young college student who returns home finds a new dynamic. The son or daughter that comes home for the holidays discovers a new environment. They soon learn what some of us already know. Once you leave, you can’t come home. Jesus also learned that lesson when he returned to his hometown, Nazareth. He revealed his true identity and mission to his friends and relatives, but they rejected him.

VINCE CONTRERAS

Studying God’s Word

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Overview

This Sunday’s Gospel is a continuation from last Sunday’s (Luke 4:14-21). Jesus, speaking in the synagogue in Nazareth, has announced that the Old Testament prophecies have been fulfilled in him; that the long awaited Messiah is here (see last week’s study). • The people are at first filled with excitement at his words. Their amazement turns to skepticism, however, as they recall that they have known Jesus and his family his whole life and he has never seemed exceptional or performed miracles for his own townsfolk, many of whom were relatives (see Mark 6:1-6a). • They are further incensed when Jesus, pointing out their lack of faith, compares them to the faithless people of Israel in the time of the prophets. These saw no miracles by the prophets, except for the despised Gentiles, or non-Jews (1 Kings 17:1-16 and 2 Kings 5:1-14). • In a foreshadowing of what will later happen to many of his followers (Acts 7:58, 13:50), the crowd attempts to avoid hearing Jesus’ message by getting rid of him—permanently. Jesus, however, is always the master of his own destiny.

Questions

  1. What is Jesus saying through the proverb (verse 23)? Through the Elijah and Elisha stories? How does this relate to the prophetic statements in Luke 2:14, 2:32, and 3:6? In what way do these words of Jesus to the villagers in Nazareth strike a cord in your own heart?
  2. Why do Jesus’ words to them turn the people’s amazement (verse 22) into anger (verses 28- 29)? What might your reaction be to his words if they were directed toward you?
  3. Elijah (1 Kings 17:1-16) and Elisha (2 Kings 5:1-14) performed miracles for Gentiles at a time and in a culture where it was frowned upon. Who are the “Gentiles” God desires you to care for? How might you do it?
  4. Jesus was set aside from all time (see the First Reading) to be the Messiah, the anointed One of God (see verse 4:18; the word Messiah means “the anointed one,” as does the Greek word “Christ”). How are we also set apart by God from all time and for what purpose are we set apart?
  5. Jesus’ neighbors reject him because he grew up among them (verses 22-24). How have you fared with evangelizing your relatives (or being evangelized by them)? How do you deal with the reactions?
SOURCE: Sunday Scripture Study by Vince Contreras, Used with Permission
RCL BENZINGER

Junior High Scripture Discussion Starters

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  1. What does Jesus say about the Scriptures?
  2. How do the people respond to Jesus?
  3. Why do the people ask if Jesus is the son of Joseph?
  4. What does Jesus say to the people?
  5. Why does Jesus go on his way?

Questions for Deeper Reflection

  • Name some people who you consider to be modern day prophets.
  • What is the call of a prophet?
  • How does a prophet find the strength and courage to make difficult choices?
  • Where do you find the strength and courage to make difficult choices?
SOURCE: Lectionary Resources by RCL BENZINGER
EDRIANNE EZELL

Our Sunday Readings

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SOURCE: Our Sunday Readings by Edrianne Ezell, Used with Permission

FR. EAMON TOBIN

Sharing God’s Word

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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Turn to the person next to you and share what verse in the Gospel caught your attention. The facilitator can decide which is more helpful: to share the next questions with the whole group, or to share in smaller groups of three or four.

2. God truly wants to use each one of us to be his representative in our families, places of work and recreation. What can block and help us from living this vocation?

3. Gandhi, a Hindu, reached out to Muslims. Yitzak Rabin, a Jew, reached out to the Palestinians. Archbishop Romero of El Salvador reached out to the poor. All were killed. Why do we kill our prophets? Why are prophets hard to take?

4. In the Gospel, a mob mentality takes over. Do you ever have to deal with a mob mentality as you seek to practice your faith? Can you name examples of mob mentalities prevalent in our society today? 6. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.

SOURCE: Commentaries on the Lectionary by Fr. Eamon Tobin (1947-2021), Used with Permission

SHARED PRAYER

Let us now pause to see how something(s) said in the reading might lead us into shared prayer.

“Dear Lord, you called me into being for your purpose, please help me to love enough to fulfill your plan.” “Please open my eyes to see how I reject others and open my heart to truly love them.”

CLOSING PRAYER

Source of love and life, you have called us to be your instrument from the moment of my existence. Give us a prophet’s courage and a disciple’s ability to love, even when living the words and ways of Jesus is difficult. Help us remember that you are always with us so that we can do unto others as you do unto us – love without end.

SOURCE: Commentaries on the Lectionary by Fr. Eamon Tobin (1947-2021), Used with Permission

FR. CLEMENT D. THIBODEAU

Echoing God’s Word

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1. Where does your family or your parish fit in among those who have power and authority, prestige and fame? Are you given the message that your group is not as good as it should be? Do those who have power in society or in the Church treat you as if you had no power or authority? What messages do you get about power and authority in this world?

2. Identify those who are rejected from the fellowship of the Church itself today. What can your parish do to call those people to fellowship and integration? What can you do personally to empower those who have been deprived of power? Explain how the work of empowering the weak is really a work of enriching the poor.

3. What hope is there for us in the message of today’s Scripture? Do we find consolation in the fact that we can be saved from our sinfulness? Do you consider yourself “poor?” How does the Church practice poverty in order to be favored by Christ? Do you understand why those in religious orders make vows of poverty in the Church?

SOURCE: Echoing God’s Word by Clement D. Thibodeau (1932-2017), Used with Permission

REFLECTION ON THE SECOND READING

Making Connections

NOTE TYPO IN TITLE: 2-3-18 should be 2-3-19


Bishop Jim Golka, presents a reflection on the Second Reading from St. Paul while he was Rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island, Nebraska, in 2019.