Luke 4: 21-32 [Standard] and Luke
4: 21-30 [RCL]
[Begin Both] Then he began to say
to them, Today this scripture has been fulfilled
in your hearing. All spoke well of him and were
amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They said, Is not this Josephs son?
He said to them, Doubtless you will quote to me
this proverb, Doctor, cure yourself! And
you will say, Do here also in your home town the
things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.
And he said, Truly I tell you, no prophet
is accepted in the prophets home town. But the
truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time
of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up for three years
and six months, and there was a severe famine over all
the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except
to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many
lepers* in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha,
and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.
When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled
with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town, and
led him to the brow of the hill on which their town
was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff.
But he passed through the midst of them and went on
his way. [End RCL]
He went down to Capernaum, a city
in Galilee, and was teaching them on the sabbath. They
were astounded at his teaching, because he spoke with
authority. [End Standard]
Reflection on Luke 4: 21-32
by John G. Gibbs, PhD
According to Luke, Jesus' mission
carries out what the expected Messiah was to do. (Matthew 11:4-5
agrees.) Jesus aligned himself with the prophetic movement when
he claimed: "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in
Fred Craddock remarks that "in
Luke's Gospel, the first public word of Jesus as an adult, apart
from reading Scripture, is 'today.' Those changes [which
we observed last Sunday in Luke 4:14-20] for the poor and the
wronged and the oppressed will occur today. This is the beginning
of jubilee. The time of God is today" (Craddock,
Luke in the Interpretation commentary series, John Knox
Press, 1990; p. 62)
Jesus' comments on the Isaiah text were at first received as
"gracious words." That is, they were so received until
their full import sank in. The "righteous man" in
the Judaism of Jesus' day would, of course, do those things
Isaiah attributed to the Spirit of the Lord's influence in human
affairs. The synagogue in Nazareth had no problem with that.
However, the radical inclusion of foreigners beyond the confines
of "God's People" (narrowly defined as only themselves)
filled the synagogue "with rage." It's ok; in fact,
it is mandated for us to take care of our own. Some even say
"charity begins at home." The Elijah and Elisha tradition,
on the other hand, knew the wide scope of "the Lord's favor,"
and acted on that certainty. Charity must not end at home.
Trajectories no doubt flow in many directions from this inclusive
gospel. One of the gospel's trajectories is toward care of creation
and support for those who have been damaged (some even to the
point of death) by our misuse of God's gifts in the creation.
The gospel of God's favor does not change when it goes through
the church doors out into the world.
The gospel's integrity is at stake when Church meets world.
The same inclusiveness and care for outcasts that persists within
the holy community characterizes that community's life in the
world among all creatures on planet earth. At stake is the persistence
of God's creative and re-creative grace everywhere, especially
insofar as we in church and synagogue are called to give it
Finally notice this, which Craddock pungently states: "Jesus
does not go elsewhere because he is rejected; he is rejected
because he goes elsewhere" (p. 64). The Nazareth rejection
foreshadows the rejection at Golgotha, and the obstacles that
the Church has faced ever since. The refusal to face the facts
of climate change stands in that unholy tradition of opposition
to God's purpose to maintain the creation in its "goodness."
To Reflections on other Readings for Year
C, Epiphany 4
at the active links
|Old Testament (Hebrew Scripture)
Psalm 71: 1-17
|New Testament Lesson
1 Corinthians 14:12b-20
1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
Luke 4: 21-32
Luke 4: 21-30
Gibbs, PhD. a retired theologian, resided in Park
Rapids, MN, when he originally wrote this reflection
in 2010. John and we welcome your comments. Please address
your comments or additional reflections to John
Gibbs or any MEESC
member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA
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