The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 30th January 2022
Lectionary readings: Jer.1:4-5.17-19; Ps.71:1-6.15.17; 1 Cor.12:31-13:13; Lk. 4:21-30
Theme: Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing
A_religious brother told me years ago that an ‘expert’ is an ordinary human being from another community. Jesus says as much, referring to bringing a message that challenges the crowd. It used to be that if the teacher told us to eat our vegetables, for example, we as children would obey, even though our mothers had told us the same thing many times. There is that idiom: ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. We know him, how can he be special – he is the boy next door! Jesus says in our reading from Luke today: “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country.” A Nicholas King in his commentary on “The New Testament” (Great Britain: 2004) refers to two themes of importance in Luke’s gospel, that appear in this passage: 1) the word/ time ‘today’ (v. 21) which we find repeated in the annunciation to the shepherds (2:11); when Jesus goes to Zacchaeus’ house (19:5.9); and in the story when the thief recognized Jesus on the Cross (23:43). We recall Psalm 94/95: “O that today you would listen to his voice! / Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,/ as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,/ when your ancestors tested me,/ and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.” (Vv. 89, NRSVEC)” The second theme that Nicholas King refers to, as presented in this passage, is: “the spread of the gospel to the gentiles; symbolized here by the widow of Sarepta, and by Naaman, the Syrian.” (p. 134) Luke also presents a theme of the growing rejection of Jesus as he journeys to Jerusalem. This passage presents the rejection of Jesus by Nazareth, his hometown. We recall what the Prophet Simeon said in the narrative of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple: “And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” (2: 33-35, NRSVEC) We read in Luke 4:5 and 9 that Satan led Jesus up (v. 5), and then took him to the pinnacle of the Temple (v. 9) and told him to throw himself down and that if he were the Son of God, God would save him. Jesus does not test God. In this section of the narrative, the crowd forces Jesus up to the brow of the hill to throw him off the cliff. It is not in God’s plan for him to die and thus God saves him in some mysterious way. As we read in the first reading from Jeremiah 1:19: “‘They shall fight against you; but they will not prevail against you, for I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to deliver you.’”
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. There are four times that ‘today’ is presented in the above commentary. Choose one which speaks to you in your life today. What is God asking of you? 2. Where do you need Jesus most in your life today?
Bibliography: King, Nicholas.The New Testament: Popular Edition (Mayhew, Great Britain: 2004); Perkins, Pheme. New Testament: Introduction (Mumbai: 1997); NRSVCE: www.biblegateway.com
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared byBernadette Teresa Chellew, South Africa. Bat Kol Alumna 2008