January 30, 2022 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/013022.cfm)
What we have just heard is the Good News of our Salvation. But there is something disturbing about our gospel today make us wonder whether it is really GOOD News.
Because as we may notice, our gospel today basically tells us how Jesus was rejected in his own country. We heard in our gospel today how Jesus was despised in his own country and by his own people. While he continued His Mission to preach the Good News to All, and as he preached the Good News particularly in own hometown, Jesus experienced humiliation. He suffered persecutions and rejection in his own country and by his own “sano”, that made it difficult for him to continue his work of salvation.
And from this experience, Jesus said the famous line, “Amen I say to you. No Prophet is accepted in his own native place.” Good News or not it may be, surely there is something disturbing in our gospel today.
But do we agree with Jesus that a prophet is without honor in his own home? Experience tells us there is a lot of truth in this statement. Based not only on Jesus’ experience but also from our experience, to be a prophet is not an easy task, especially when our audiences are our own family & community in our midst. Surely bringing God’s message & doing wonders within our home & community takes a lot of hardships & challenges. Why is this so? Why is it particularly difficult for us to be a prophet in our own turf, in our own home? What makes it difficult for us and others to accept that we are all called and sent to preach Love within our own family?
Our gospel today points us two stumbling blocks that somehow make it particularly challenging to be a prophet in our own turf.
First, our prejudices. Like the people who saw Jesus as ONLY the carpenter’s son, it is also our tendency to prejudge others, as if we already know them. We tend to belittle others – we tend to measure or to limit others by our own standard. In other words: “Ka-menos ba.” Comments like: “He is ONLY that, or he is JUST a ..” And because we judged, we boxed in, that person by our own standards, we want them to behave as we expect them to behave, no more no less. “Anak, lang tika, ayaw’g supak” or “Magulang baya ko ha.” “I am your superior/boss. You are Just my subordinate.” At the same time, we do tend not only to belittle others but also ourselves. “Unsaon ta man, pobre man, manghod lang man, dili man ko pari, layko lang ko. Bata pa man ko.” So, the attitude of Belittling oneself & Downgrading others blind us to see blessings & graces before us.
And, the second stumbling block to our being a prophet in our own turf is our lack of faith. Our lack of faith on others & trust with oneself somehow renders us inutile & immobile to partake what is Good & True being offered us all.
In our gospel today, Jesus was not able to work miracles in his own country because of the people’s unbelief – their lack of faith. His own hometown and his own family and relatives would not believe Jesus. They wanted to cut him down to their size, to downgrade him, and to pull him down to their level. We hear how Jesus was disappointed with his townspeople. He was disappointed because he could not help them, as he would have liked to. Because of their narrow-mindedness, Jesus was disappointed of the missed opportunities and wasted graces he can offer them. Their judgment on Jesus was also a judgment on themselves. How they perceive Jesus projects their own view of themselves. Because of their own low self-esteem, they also see Jesus by their own lowly standard, and they were not able to lift themselves up out of their pathetic life.
This is a story we are all familiar with. We know it in two ways, either others downgrade us, or we belittle others, same way as to ourselves. Usually it is slow for us to believe that there exists Prophets amongst us.
The opposite of downgrading is uplifting or upgrading. Lifting us out of our apathy, showing us our greatness is exactly what Jesus has come to do. In his company, people felt better and greater than they had ever thought possible before, because of this they surrounded and followed him. But at home, it did not seem to work.
Yes, because of our prejudices and our lack of faith, it is difficult for us to be prophet in our own hometown, in our own turf, and it is disturbing news to reflect that to be a prophet, one has also to experience humiliation, persecutions, and rejections.
The good news however is, that despite these difficulties and hardships, God still continues to send prophets who will preach his salvation to ourselves & others, whatever it takes. All we are to do now is to uplift and encourage one another. Perhaps say these words to others & oneself: “Flatter me & I may not believe you. Criticize me & I may not like you. Ignore me & I may not forgive you. Encourage me & I may not forget you” for one & some of us might be God-sent prophets in our midst.