Who Is This Jesus?

file0001321463302Whose side do we want to be on? The winners, of course! But unwittingly the people in the gospel story choose to be on the wrong side! At first they “all spoke highly of” Jesus. But then they heard him say what they didn’t like and turned on him. “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” However, more than one Scripture passage is being fulfilled in this gospel. The words and deeds of Jesus fulfill the Scripture passage from Isaiah about the coming of salvation: glad tidings for the poor, liberty for captives, sight for the blind, freedom for the oppressed. The words and deeds of the people fulfill the Scripture passages about rejecting and killing God’s prophets: they question Jesus’ origins, become furious at his words, and act to destroy him. The people choose the wrong side! Which Scripture passages do we hear? Which do we fulfill?

When Jesus challenges the people’s narrowness with the examples of Elijah’s and Elisha’s outreach to Gentiles (Sidon and Syria), they grow furious. Jesus challenged the crowd because the Good News is always broader than selective preferences or limited understanding—yes, salvation would be for Gentiles as well as Jews. While the gospel is always good news, it is not always comfortable because it ever stretches us beyond where we are now. Which Scripture passages do we hear? Which do we fulfill?

If we never meet doubt or opposition over values in our daily living, then we must examine how committed to the Gospel we are. Most of us aren’t called “professionally” to preach the Good News. All of us, however, because of our baptism, are committed to living it. Living the Gospel is what must shape our everyday choices and responses. This means, for example, that if the chatter around the watercooler at work grows uncharitable or coarse, we have the courage to walk away. Another example: if prejudice exists among our friends and acquaintances, we have the courage to extol the dignity of the minority. Dying to oneself means that we place Gospel values before any others and are willing to stake our lives on them. We might not always concretely experience God’s protection and deliverance in the given moment; but we know from Jesus’ life that God is there when it really counts—leading us to Life everlasting.

Living Liturgy 2016