Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The mission is not always a success

He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all …. were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.  …. He said to them, “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.'” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed …. there were 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 in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill ….  to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away. Lk 4,21-30

In the today gospel the tense of the decisive moments of the life is breathed: it is the first public speech of Jesus in the town of Nazareth  and a lot of expectation is over him, who has done a lot of miracles in Capernaum. He, after having announced the message of Isaiah, proclaims himself as a messenger: “Today this Scripture which you have heard took place”. By the beginning his words are successful and “the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him” (Lk 4,20). The persons thereby present, however, ask him to go from the words to the facts and to do also among them the signs which he has done in Capernaum. Jesus, on the contrary, realizing that the atmosphere of faith  in the synagogue is not ideal to have miracles taking place, declines the invitation and he adds: “Really I tell you: no prophet is welcomed in his own country” And he does not do any miracle. In the synagogue all the people feel offended,  they stand up and expel him out of the town. The first announcement of the salvation in Nazareth is, really, a failure. Who knows why Luke has started his gospel by narrating this negative event of the public life of Jesus who, together suffering persecutions, has been highly successful when being exposed to the crowds and with the disciples. Perhaps he wants  to cancel to the missionaries the illusion that the evangelization is a sequence of triumphs. Or he wants to transmit the message that, to capture the signs of the gospel and  to see the meaning which accompany it, it is necessary to be open to welcome Jesus as the son of God. It may be also that Luke did not consider all these problems and that he simply followed what he thought it was the sequence of the facts.. However, despite this first failure, the today passage allows us, as readers of the gospel, to capture the wide liberty of Jesus in front of persons not so much available to welcome him as the Christ. He stands up, he says what he had to say and he does what he has to do: but the welcome of the announced word does not depends upon him, but by the opening of the heart of the ones to whom the announcement was addressed. If this is not welcomed, the Lord cannot act in us and for us as he cannot do miracles in his Nazareth, due to the lack of confidence of its inhabitants. This is the main message of the today gospel: let’s remember it.

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