From the Sublime to the Ridiculous
We continue from last week’s eloquent announcement by Jesus of his mission – “to bring good news to the poor and proclaim release to the captives” – into the people’s reaction to his news. At first, they are delighted: hometown boy – “Joseph’s son” – makes good, does mighty things – Hooray for Nazareth!
But when Jesus explains that his mission is not to do miracles and magic tricks for the townspeople’s benefit, their mood darkens immediately. It’s not what they want to hear, so they turn on the messenger. It’s almost comical: they decide to throw Jesus over a cliff!
Jesus refuses to be caught up in their emotion storm, their extreme reactivity. He “passed through the midst of them and went on his way.” He knew what his mission was, and it wasn’t to deal with the locals stuck in an old way of thinking about God as a Pez-dispenser of favors.
So, what do we make of this strange God-man Jesus? He challenges us to be part of God’s transforming work in the world: to practice love in new, expansive ways; to lift up the lowly and broken-hearted. As St. Augustine once put it:
Without God, we cannot; without us, God will not. JBM