The rejection at Nazareth

Published February 3, 2019, 12:12 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

LUKE 4:21-30

reflectionstodayJesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying: “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” 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, I tell you, 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 on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

The scandal of ordinariness

“There is no place like home.” After all, home is where we belong. In the home we first experience being loved and cared for; it is where we can be our true selves and are accepted. At the end of a hard day’s work, we often sigh, “It’s good to be home!”

Yet, there is also something positive about not being “at home,” in being an alien or a foreigner. We Filipinos respect foreigners and take extra effort to make them feel welcome, even if we do not know them. Conversely, our overseas Filipino workers are usually held in high esteem because of their dedication to work and their deep faith in God. They feel “at home” in foreign lands.

In the Gospel, Jesus returns home, to his native town of Nazareth. His sense of belonging is shown in his attendance at the synagogue service and in volunteering to do the reading. His fellow town mates initially welcome him, amazed at his gracious words. But then they realize he is just one of them, someone without proper credentials, and their admiration turns into doubt.

Jesus responds by saying that their reaction is something “normal” or expected because “no prophet is accepted in his own native place.” He cites the examples of two pagans—the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian. Feeling insulted, the people are infuriated and want to throw Jesus off the cliff, but he manages to escape.

When we judge people simply by their background, we can lose sight of their real worth. The townsfolk of Nazareth forget Jesus’ marvelous deeds and his gracious words and teachings as they become fixated or scandalized by his “ordinariness.” They are not wise enough to realize that God can reveal himself in ordinary, unspectacular ways.

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: