Date: Sunday, February 03, 2019
4th Sunday Ordinary Time C
Bishop Roger Foys, Bishop of Covington, Kentucky issued an apology to the students at Covington Catholic High School. It appears the brief cell phone visual/audio of Nicholas Sandmann standing before a Native American chanting and beating his ceremonial drum, that went viral, was misleading. Some of the students were wearing red hats with a logo MAGA. When the entire transmission was released it became clear that there were adult agitators provoking a response from the students and the claim that Nicholas had blocked and taunted Phillips, the Native American, was not true. We can all jump to the wrong conclusion.
Last week in the Gospel according to St. Luke, Jesus returns home to Nazareth, enters the synagogue on the Sabbath, stands to read verses from the Prophet Isaiah, sits down and says: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all speak highly of him and are amazed at the gracious words that come from his mouth. But then they also ask: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” You can begin to feel the resistance and hostility to Jesus. Who does Jesus think he is to presume that the Holy Spirit is upon him and he can dare to speak for God? Is he pretending to be a Holy man, a prophet?
Jesus knows their minds and hearts. Onlookers and listeners have heard of the wonderful things that Jesus did in Capernaum and they want a similar demonstration. What is more -- they understand that Jesus is extending glad tidings and healings to foreigners, outsiders, persons who have crossed borders. Like Elijah who feeds a widow and her son in Sidon and Elisha who heals a Syrian leper, a hated enemy, Jesus bestows God’s bountiful mercy and love on strangers.
God forewarns Jeremiah (1st Reading) that he will suffer and be rejected as a prophet to Jerusalem and to the nations. St. Paul in his Letter to the Corinthians (2nd Reading) writes of love that “does not seek its own interests, it is not quick tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.” Jesus will be rejected and suffer at the hands of his own town and kinfolk. Jesus will tell the parable of the Good Samaritan who cares for a stranger robbed and left to die. Jesus embodies and shares God’s mercy and agape love.
We all see the world not as it is but as we are. We all have filters and blinders that distort what we see and hear. Our readings today encourage us to listen to others as “God listens to the cry of the poor” and to observe others from God’s point of view. We should have the eyes and ears of Christ.