Monday, 31 August 2020 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today all of us heard the unfortunate story of how the Lord Jesus was rejected in His own hometown of Nazareth in Galilee, by His own townspeople, not long after He began His ministry. He proclaimed the truth of God as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah and proclaimed how the Lord’s salvation has finally arrived, in Him.

But the people of Nazareth were bewildered, and all of them who heard Him in the synagogue was initially amazed and then later on confused and found it hard to believe that Jesus was referring to Himself as He read from the text of the prophet Isaiah. After all, they were His neighbours and fellow townspeople, many of whom had seen Him from when He was still very young, and saw Him as He grew up.

And He was merely the Son of the village carpenter, St. Joseph, who although an upright and likely well-respected man, but was poor and worked in a profession that was usually looked down upon. What went through the minds of the people then must have been things like, ‘How did this Jesus gain such wisdom and knowledge? He was just the poor carpenter’s Son!’ or ‘Preposterous! How can He claim Himself as the Messiah? We were just a mere tiny and poor village in Galilee!’

This referred to how that area was among the poorest in the region of Galilee, a small village and not noteworthy at all. Galilee itself was always seen as a backwater region, at the periphery of the Jewish world, then centred in Judea and Jerusalem. Galilee was where the Jewish settlers often lived alongside significant populations of Samaritans, local Canaanites and Syro-Phoenicians.

Thus, to the understanding of the people, it was impossible for someone from Galilee to have been the Messiah, and even less still, the Son of a poor carpenter hailing from the small and poor village in Galilee, the village of Nazareth. And we must also not forget that there must have been tinge of jealousy as the people complained against the Lord more because He tried to show them that in truth, He was not just a mere village carpenter’s Son.

This unfortunate incident, and how the Lord was cast out of His own hometown was exactly what St. Paul wrote in his Epistle to the Corinthians, in our first reading today. He said that ‘your faith might be a matter not of human wisdom, but of God’s power.’ And this is a reminder that we must not use our own human intellect, wisdom and understanding to judge the truth of God. And St. Paul also said earlier how as he came to the people preaching the truth about Christ, he did so with humility and open heart and mind, and thus, sought his listeners to do the same as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we reflect on these passages of the Scriptures we are reminded how every one of us have to open our minds and hearts, and allow God’s words and truth to enter into us. We must not be prejudiced in any way to others, just as the people of Nazareth were prejudiced against the Lord. As long as we have prejudice, bias and all these, it will be difficult for us to accept God’s truth and have genuine faith. And this applies in our own world as well.

Why is that so? That is because if we are biased, prejudiced, then we are filling ourselves up with ego and pride, and there will be no place either for God or for our fellow brothers and sisters in our hearts and minds. And the word of God and His truth will remain elusive for us. Instead, we have to heed the words of St. Paul, reminding us to be humble before God, to accept His truth and not to allow our judgment be clouded by our prejudices and biases, our worldly perceptions and thoughts.

Let us all seek the Lord with all of our hearts, with all sincerity and faith, and let us devote our time and effort to be faithful witnesses of His truth, proclaiming that the Lord Jesus is indeed the Messiah of God, Who brought with Him and with His sacrifice on the Cross, the promise of eternal life and salvation and liberation from sin and death. Let us rejoice knowing that God has come to us, to be with us, and be thankful for His love, and no longer be stubborn or harden our hearts as His own townspeople and many of the Jewish leaders had done.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He strengthen in us our faith, and our love for Him, as well as for our fellow brothers and sisters. May the Lord bless us and all of our works, and may He grant us the courage to persevere in life with faith, in all of our works and actions, now and always. Amen.

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