The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth and YOU

Context: After having been tempted by the Enemy, Our Lord goes into Galilee to preach in the synagogues. Here, He in the town He grew up in after the sojourn in Egypt, Nazareth.

Continuation of the Holy Gospel according to Luke [Luke 4:23-30 – RSV]

At that time, Jesus said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Caper?na-um, do here also in your own country.’” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Eli?jah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; 26 and Eli?jah was sent to none of them but only to Zar?ephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Eli?sha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Na?aman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. 30 But passing through the midst of them he went away.

The 1st reading in the Vetus Ordo is from 2 Kings about the healing of Naaman the Syrian leper. Coincidentally, the readings are the same, 1st and Gospel, today, in both the Vetus Ordo of the Roman Rite and the Novus (which is, on the face of it, not the only expression of the Roman Rite).


How swiftly your own can turn on you when you follow God’s will.

God’s ways are not the ways of the world and it is a risky thing to give yourself over to God. You will be misunderstood and you will be unjustly treated. As we read in John, the Lord says, “They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (16:2).

In Luke 4 the Lord is just undertaking His public earthly ministry. He goes, first, to “his own”. They received Him not (John 1:11). In a foreshadowing of what would come, His betrayal by one of His own leading to His Passion and Death, He went mutely, allowing Himself to be brought to the very brink of a cliff and death. But it was not His time and the Devil had already, just before He came to Nazareth, tempted Him to throw Himself down as an echo of Adam’s fall in the sin of “pride of life”. It was not His time, so He simply slipped from their clinging and walked away without saying a word.

Two lessons.

As it would have availed Our Lord nothing to have argued or complained along the way, we could avoid a lot of sins by keeping our mouths shut, even when under duress. Even when painful crosses are offered to us, even by those whom we account friends or loved ones, we must take care how we react.

Unjust or mean treatment hurts more when it comes from loved ones than from strangers. In Nazareth, Christ was being hauled to the cliff by the people He grew up with, who knew Him. How that must have hurt His Sacred Heart, perhaps with a first sharp stab.

I am minded of King Lear who said (unjustly as it turns out) to his own “heart”, his daughter Cordelia, when she won’t flatter him for material gain: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have thankless child”.  Lear was wrong about Cordelia, but ironically, what he says falsely about her hurting him is exactly what he does to her. From Cordelia’s perspective: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have an unjust parent”.

Hurting is a double-edged tooth that cuts both ways.

As times get harder – and they are going to, in society economically and culturally, in the Church from our leadership – we will need each other more and more.

Let’s make a promise to ourselves to be especially careful with those who are the closest to us, who, in a dreadful twist of our fallen nature, we are the quickest to lash out at because we are confident that they won’t abandon us as would a stranger.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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One Comment

  1. Repentant Sinner says:

    Thank you Father. True, and wise advice.

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