Lenten Meditation: Monday, March 13, 2023
Today, we find Jesus in the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown. Before this episode, we hear only about Jesus’ birth and childhood, his baptism, and his temptation in the wilderness. This return to Nazareth, then, is the beginning of Jesus’ public life.
You would expect him to begin his wondrous works right then and there. “The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them.” That is how Jesus himself later in the Gospel according to Luke describes his ministry. Yet trying to do any of that in Nazareth would be a waste of time. “No prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown,” Jesus says, so he takes his gifts elsewhere.
The Church can be like Nazareth. Because we know one another so well, warts and all, we can be skeptical of people among us when they challenge the status quo, even if it’s by bringing a new possibility. “We have always done it that way,” is one of the most common sentences you hear in church.
When people come from the outside, however, we are more open to their challenges and their gifts. That’s why wise church leaders often import so-called experts to say and do what people in the community could say and do just as well.
Let’s look for the wise voices and the saving actions we have deadened with our resistance. Is there a way to hear and consider those words, and to recognize and embrace those gifts? When we deaden people’s voices and refuse their contributions, we deny ourselves new life and we wound the prophets in our midst.