Today’s Gospel: Luke 4:24-30
Optional Memorial of Saint Frances of Rome, Religious
People have always drawn lines.
We need to know who is in and who is out. Part of knowing who we are is knowing who we aren’t—a knowledge only knowable when some are excluded. We name them “other,” the “not us.” Whether or not we admit it, we believe that God likes us a little better than God likes them.
There were many lepers and widows in Israel who could have used Elijah’s help, but God sent him to those on the outside. Naaman the Syrian and the widow in Zarephath were clearly “other”—not part of the chosen people of God. Even so, Elijah was sent to help them instead of one of his own people.
Jesus tells this to the people in the synagogue because He realizes that they will not accept His teachings. Jesus, an insider, is one of them. They know his family and his roots. He should be accepted as one of their own, yet the bulk of His ministry will take place on the edges of their society, outside the lines they have drawn. Jesus’ message is clear, and the meaning is not lost on his listeners: God is sending His blessing to the “other,” to people outside the boundaries. This fills them with murderous rage; they even try to throw Jesus off a cliff.
Like Jesus’ original audience, we have our assumptions about where (and with whom) God is working. Although the lines in our society and churches today might not seem quite as impenetrably drawn, they are definitely real. Even if we might not think about it often, there are people who are “inside” and people who are “outside” the border. We teach that God loves everyone, but we sometimes forget that Jesus was especially drawn to people on the margins of society. Let us be careful not to place limits on God’s grace that He does not own.
How do we feel when we see God acting for those we consider “outside”? How do we respond when we see boundaries being drawn that exclude others?
God, open my eyes to see past the human distinctions of “us” and “them.” Help me to appreciate the broadness of your work in the world.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Abbey Dupuy