Knowing Jesus Truly

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 30th, 2022, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 4:21-30

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For a long time, I found today’s gospel account a bit strange. Until I experienced something like Jesus did in my own life. It related to my professional career as a university professor.

First, let’s focus on the experience of Jesus, which happened early in his public life. The gospels mostly agree on the fact that he started preaching and doing works of wonder in Capernaum, a town about twenty miles from his hometown of Nazareth. When he finally visited his hometown, initially he was welcomed and received fitting respect. He had lived there at least thirty years. Everyone knew him. They knew his family. His relatives and friends.

They had heard of the good works and miracles he had done for their neighbors up north. The locals wanted him to display his power for the home folks. They wanted a show of power on their behalf. Shouldn’t they benefit from what he had to offer? Didn’t they have a claim on him since he was, in a sense, one of them?

Unfortunately, they did not know of all the circumstances associated with his previous activity. They misunderstood his achievements. He was not a performer. He did not seek to impress others, or to amaze them or to call attention to himself.

Their request that he do something “just for them” was not why he did what he did. He was not “theirs” to impress. He was totally focused only doing the work of God. In other words, they totally misunderstood his motivation and his intent. His refusal to do it their way, infuriated them. They forced him to the edge of a cliff “to hurl him down headlong.” But he was able to escape. He had good work to do elsewhere.

I said that I had experienced something like that myself. For years I had diligently worked hard to teach and to treat all my students with the respect that I thought they deserved. But I learned from others (peers) that my motivation was questioned by some colleagues and that I was being judged as perhaps disloyal. I will say no more here than life between us can be difficult at times. People can make false judgments. It can happen in work settings, in neighborhoods, and even in families. Even Jesus had a tough time with some people who thought they really knew him. They didn’t.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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