Sunday, February 3, 2019

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Readings: Jer 1:4-5,17-19; 1 Cor. 12:31-13:13; Lk 4:21-30

Speaking the truth in love, prophetic mission, opposition and rejection are some of the key words that help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. The readings focus our attention on our call to prophetic mission; a call to speak the truth in love. Since the prophet is sent to speak the truth, his message risks opposition and rejection. The first reading is about the call of Jeremiah who is chosen by God even before he was born. “I have appointed you as prophet to the nations…Stand up and tell them all I command you”. Jeremiah is also warned that his mission will not be easy, because his message will certainly meet opposition. The only reason why Jeremiah accepts such an unpopular mission is God’s love and faithfulness in the midst of persecution. “They will fight against you but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you”. This is a clear reminder that it is not the eloquence of God’s messengers that count, but their clear witness to God’s love. Against this background we see the meaning of Paul’s message in the second reading. Without the kind of love that Paul speaks about, Jeremiah or any messenger of God will fail. Love that is patient and kind and never jealous; a love that is always ready to forgive, to trust, hope and endure whatever comes, is a powerful driving force. That love sustained Paul in his own ministry till martyrdom in Rome, and the same love inspired Jesus in His ministry. Even though rejected by his own people, Jesus endures all persecution to his own death and resurrection.

The Gospel passage is a clear reminder that when God’s messengers speak the truth in love, they risk rejection and opposition. Jesus in the Synagogue faces such rejection not because he is a local young man of Nazareth, but because his biblical message about God’s universal love and salvation contains a truth that the audience cannot deny, and that angers the religious and political leaders. He is immediately considered dangerous and subversive. “They sprung to their feet and hustled him out of the town…intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away”. What message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings remind us that our call to discipleship like that of Jeremiah and Jesus Christ must be rooted in love. 2) The readings also assure us that God never abandons his faithful messengers when they speak the truth in love. 3) Just like Jeremiah, Jesus and Paul, we too are challenged to live our calling as Christians even if in doing so we may risk our comfort, rejection and even our lives.

©2019 John S. Mbinda

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