March 9, 2015

Gospel LK 4:24-30
Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth:
“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 he passed through the midst of them and went away.
Today’s gospel presents us with an interesting scene. The people in the synagogue were upset with Jesus because he pointed out to them how God had chosen to help people from Sidon and Syria before helping his “chosen people,” the Jews.
We’re told that when they heard him say this “they were all filled with fury” and “led him to the brow of the hill to hurl him down headlong.”
The tensions that exist today between Muslims, Jews and Christians are no less intense than they were when Jesus walked the Earth.
Rather than judging the Jews of Jesus’ time I would be better served to honestly examine my own religious prejudices.
What is my reaction when I encounter a woman wearing a sari and headscarf or a man with a beard and turban? Do I look at them with suspicion or do I see them as children of God?
God’s Kingdom will not be brought about on earth by our harshly judging those who see God differently than we do.
His Kingdom on earth will be realized when we overcome our prejudices and have tolerance for how others see God.
Several years ago, I delivered to a woman moving into a elderly housing complex. When she thanked me for “all the beautiful things” we brought, I handed her the crucifix with our message, “This is a gift for your home. We’re just the delivery people. This is the man who sent you the furniture.”
Gently, she replied, “Oh, no thank you, I’m Jewish. But, I’ll take it it and give it to one of my Christian friends.”
God patiently waits for the time when we will all come to, “Love one another.”