January 31, 2010
Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying:
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say,
‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said, “Amen, I say to you,
no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Indeed, I tell you,
there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah
when the sky was closed for three and a half years
and a severe famine spread over the entire land.
It was to none of these that Elijah was sent,
but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.
Again, there were many lepers in Israel
during the time of Elisha the prophet;
yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
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.
But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.
“Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” Isn’t this just a man? Luke says that the people “rose up in fury” at Christ’s words. Why?
We cannot accept the message, we are blind to the familiar, the everyday. That’s why we are called to live the Gospel radically; there has to be a radical leaving behind of all that is familiar and comfortable. We repeatedly hear in the Gospels cryptic phrases such as, “You must hate your father and mother and “Sell all you have, give to the poor, then come, and follow Me.” Also, the kingdom of God is likened to a “pearl of great price;” the man who found it sold all he had to purchase this pearl; or a “treasure in a field;” again the man who found this treasure sold everything in order to purchase this field. And there are many more examples of this message of turning away from everything that we formerly prized and counted on–to follow and seek Him, who is hidden.
What does this mean? When we embark upon the process of conversion, we often have a radical upheaval of our lives–either interiorly or outwardly, or both–which then gives us no chance of turning back or choosing something other than Christ. We experience anguish and pain in leaving behind all the “wisdom” of the world, but it is precisely in that anguish that we come to be more open to Christ, to hope in Him alone, to choose Him alone. It is the adventure of a lifetime, and it is terrifying! But have no fear, the Master knows just how much we can bear. “I have more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.”
Do not seek to literally “give up everything for Christ,” but rather to seek His will alone. He has a different plan for each of us; some of us are called to “leave everything,” but many (most?) are not called in this literal way, but rather in an interior way. Sanctity consists of seeking and doing His will alone. It’s very simple, but it is not easy. Pray, frequent the Sacraments, get a good Confessor and/or spiritual director, and be docile to the promptings of the Spirit. The one who prays has all his or her questions answered, and has nothing to fear.