Love never fails

Greetings on this the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Jer 1:4-5, 17-19; Ps 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17; 1 Cor 12:31—13:13; Lk 4:21-30

Notes: The story of the Rejection at Nazareth.

The Rejection at Nazareth is broken into a two parts on consecutive Sundays (3rd and 4th Ordinary):

  1. Messianic declaration: https://deacongerrypalermo.blog/2022/01/22/mission-and-renewal-not-habit/
  2. The rejection of Jesus and His Message. That is the event in today’s gospel portion.

Transition questions:

  1. How did it progress from this to that, from admiration to rejection to the point of attempting murder?
  2. Consider how do we receive this divine proclamation today? What is our response in this age?

Reaction Questions: (People’s Reaction in the gospel portion pivots dramatically)

1. All spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth (Lk 4:22).

2. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong (Lk 4:29).

Theology Questions:

  1. Jesus’ use of the Elijah and Elisha stories had a two-fold purpose. The first making analogous the mission of Jesus as prophet equal to or bettering the ministry of Elijah and Elisha, the two great prophets. The second purpose is to assert the scope of Jesus’ ministry is beyond just the Jewish people but includes, like the prophets Elijah and Elisha, the well-being of Gentiles (Naaman the Syrian stricken with leprosy and the widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon stricken with abject poverty and death of a son).
  2. Jesus’ mission is also for the (eventual) ingathering of the Gentiles.
  3. Love possesses the wellbeing of the other, and is not to be possessed of itself, reserved for itself.
  4. Trinitarian theology holds that the dynamic, ever refreshed love between Father, Son and Spirit are the complete commitment to love of the other of myself.

Reactions:

  1. Jealousy and possession. Capernaum is a Jewish city of the Galilee where fishermen live and work. It is a city of the less educated, working class Galileans, and not equal to the Judean enclave that is Nazareth. Here, in Capernaum, Jesus did miracles. Jesus, knowing their hearts, quotes their unspoken words: Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’ (Lk 4:23b).
  2. Nazareth, if you will allow me, was a gated community of Judeans in Galilean territory. Their affinity was for Judea/Jerusalem, not Galilee/Capernaum.
  3. Isn’t he son of Joseph? Is questioning his anointing by way of his parentage and Joseph’s low estate among the rich and among those born of priestly, Levitical, royal or the ruling / mercantile classes.
  4. Naaman praised God, Gehazi, an aide to Elisha, rejected the Divine grace given without payment and rejected Elisha’s solution. Gehazi was stricken with leprocy for his cold heartedness toward Naaman and his rejection of Divine Grace given to outsiders.
  5. The woman (widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon) said to Elijah, “Now indeed I know that you are a man of God, and it is truly the word of the LORD that you speak.” (1 Kngs 17:24).
  6. The people of Nazareth were filled with fury.
  7. In an obscured reference to Moses and the Red/Reed Sea passing during his Exodus: But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away (Lk 4:30).

First reading

Call of Jeremiah in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. We are drawing parallels to Jesus and his mission.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you (Jer 1:5). These are the words of divine love.

In the first reading we recall the anointing of Jeremiah. He was nervous and felt unworthy of such a calling. Yet he was reassured by love:

  1. Gird your loins (to journey with the Lord).
  2. Speak the truth even among those who reject the message.
  3. Don’t be disheartened.
  4. And remember: They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD (Jer 1:19).

Responsorial Psalm

I will sing of your salvation.

Second reading

So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corr 13:13).

  • Love never fails to send.
  • Love never fails to act.
  • Love never fails to remember you, ever.

It is so important to remember that even when faith has yielded to sight and hope to possession, love remains and never fails to attend to you as the beloved.

Alleluia Verse

The Lord sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives.

Gospel Portion

In today’s gospel portion we are confronted with a two part question after the proclamation.

Jesus said:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

 because he has anointed me

 to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives

 and recovery of sight to the blind,

to let the oppressed go free,

and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Questions:

  1. Do we believe him? Do we trust this is true for ‘me’?
  2. Do we want that blessing for everyone, even those we ‘hate’?

He meant it for:

  1. Everyone.
  2. For you.

It is helpful to understand that on the day in question:

  1. There was no one in Nazareth in dire straits like the widowed Syrian.
  2. There was no one in Nazareth as sick as Naaman was.

And our response should be to rejoice that the Lord helped them.

If we hear Jesus speak, not just lovely words or poetic religiosity, if we really hear him:

  1. We would rejoice with Naaman.
  2. We would be happy for the widow.
  3. We would praise God who sends the rains for all and nurtures the land for human benefit, all.

If we hear Jesus speak from our insular self-image:

  1. We reject love and care given to the stranger and alien, we are rejecting Jesus.
  2. We want to possess God and limit his work to just among us, we are rejecting Jesus.
  3. We are filled with rage and jealousy, we are far from Jesus.
  4. We are judgmental of others because of their station in life, their ancestry, their faith and occupation, we are rejecting Jesus.

Stop possessing God as an object, an I to It. Start expressing God as relation of I to Thou.

Remember: that even when faith has yielded to sight and hope to possession, love remains and never fails to attend to you as the beloved. As us all.

Peace be with you,

Deacon Gerry

(Martin Buber’s I and Thou https://gerrypalermo.files.wordpress.com/2022/01/buber-c1923-i_and_thou-ocr-tu.pdf).

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