Monday of the Third Week of Lent
(II Kings 5:1-15ab; Luke 4:24-30)
The number of Christians in the Middle East is dwindling rapidly. A generation ago counting about ten percent of the population in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Palestine, they have been depleted drastically by Muslim radicalism abetted by indifferent Western governments. The trajectory resembles Jesus’ fate in today’s gospel.
Sadly, Jesus is rejected by his townspeople. He has just inaugurated his ministry with a reading from Isaiah to which the citizenry of Nazareth responded favorably. Then the people started questioning, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” as if it were incredible that, originating among them, Jesus would have authorization from on high. So Jesus exposes their refusal to believe in him as consistent with the way Israel has treated its prophets from time immemorial. Then he leaves the scene taking his message to where it may be heard.
We must take care not to reject Jesus as well. It can happen from paying lip service to Jesus’ commands on Sunday and living daily for ourselves. Yes, he challenges the ways of the world which attract us. But following him, we gain a friendship which will lead us through all our troubles to a lasting joy.