4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
We always say “We cannot please everybody”. Those who do not like us will always find something negative even amongst the best of us. As long as we live there will always be people who will love and hate us, that is why we have friends and enemies as well. Jesus as a man was loved by some but hated by many. In fact in His lifetime, He had more enemies than friends so that from the moment He was born until His last breath, and all the years in between and even to this day, many hated Him.
The Israelites had been longing for the Messiah whom they thought would free them from their bondage against the Romans. A strong and political messiah! Even now, they are still waiting for the Messiah to come. Jesus could never fit into the standard of the messiahship in their mind. Yes a prophet, but never the Messiah! They did not just fail to recognize Jesus as the Messiah but they hated Him.
When He read the passage in the synagogue at first He was well received but suddenly the people were enraged. Why? Because He was too much for them! How can He be better when He was just ordinary like them? The people of Nazareth could have been proud that one from their ranks had risen to such high status. But the people could not accept Jesus because what they saw in Him was the carpenter they knew. For them He could never be Divine. How can He claim to be God when they believed in the One God since the beginning of time? Even the relatives of Jesus believed He was out of His mind. If we place ourselves into their shoes, can we blame them? It is easier for us to believe because our consciousness has been formed by those believers who were ahead of us. But for sinners it is different and their hatred and disbelief had been carried on until this day. That is why Jesus’ followers during His time really took a leap of faith literally by believing in Jesus when the “consciousness of faith” was in the earliest stage of its development. Maybe some of us may ask “But how can they not believe after seeing the miracles that He performed?” Until when should peoples recognize Jesus as the Messiah? If Jesus comes again in the present age, will the world accept Him this time? Or would history repeat itself? It is the same question that we ask of other faiths: “Two thousand years after Christianity was born, why are there still many religions? If we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, what difference does it make to the rest of the world who do not know and do not believe in Him? These are tough questions to ponder on.
What is this gospel to us today? How do we respond to those people who cannot accept us and who hate us? When the people of Nazareth wanted to throw Jesus down from the cliff, He walked away from them. Flight! If possible, like Jesus we avoid those people who want nothing but to harm us. But if we cannot avoid them, we just have to accept them as they are and be at peace. In the spirit of non-violence, if we cannot like or love other people, at least let us not harm them.
At the end, Jesus showed us that it is possible for us to love those who hate us even to the point of giving ourselves to them just like what He did to the Jews. When we are able to do this, then we experience what God has been doing to us: loving us despite our sinfulness.