Detailed homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: RISING ABOVE REJECTIONS
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday January 30 2022
R1 – Jer 1:4-5,17-19
R2 – 1Cor 12:31-13:13
GOSPEL – Luke 4:21-30
A priest once narrated his pilgrimage experience in the Holy Land, particularly Jerusalem in 1985. Among the spots he visited was the tomb of King David, a highly revered monument for all Jews.
The lady tourist guide kindly showed them around David’s shrine and explained the great significance of the hallowed ground.
As the tour was about to end, this priest asked: “What about Jesus Christ? How do you regard Him?”
The lady looked at him sharply, her face stiffening. With her serene composure ruffled, she said angrily, “Jesus Christ was an impostor, an ordinary person, he doesn’t mean anything to us.”
Beloved in Christ, imagine the magnitude of such a trans-generational rejection and hatred on Jesus that accompanied that statement: “Jesus Christ was an impostor, an ordinary person, he doesn’t mean anything to us.”
That is why the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy present us with the theme of rejection, as a necessary and unavoidable aspect of the prophetic vocation. In other words, rejections and oppositions are inevitable in our Christian life. Therefore, today’s readings invite us to manifest prophetic courage and missionary optimism of our Christian convictions in our Faith and in its practice, even when we face hatred and rejection.
The first reading tells us how God called Jeremiah as His prophet and equipped him to face opposition and rejection. After the call of Jeremiah in Jer 1:5, God knew the inevitability of rejection and opposition in the prophetic vocation. God assured Jeremiah of his continuous presence and guidance, especially in the face of opposition and rejection: “Do not be afraid” (Jer 1:8). In furtherance of this assurance, God convinced him, “They will fight against you, they will reject you, but will not overcome you, for I am with you.”
So, Jeremiah, in living out his prophetic vocation while encountering rejection and persecution, Jeremiah prefigured Jesus, the greatest of all prophets.
Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel presenting his own people’s negative reaction to Jesus’ “Apostolic Manifesto” at the synagogue of Nazareth when Jesus applied to himself the words of Isaiah 61, announcing a new time of jubilee, liberation, and healing in God’s name. The passage shows us how Jesus faced skepticism and criticism with prophetic courage.
In verse 22, the people in the Synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown declared: “This is Joseph’s son, surely?
The Greek rendition offers us deeper insight into understanding the profundity and magnitude of such disreputable and disrespectful words used on Jesus. The Greek version says, “Οὐχὶ υἱός ἐστιν ἐστιν Ἰωσὴφ οὗτος ( _ouchi huios estin Ioseph houtos_ ), which literally means, “Is not this Joseph’s son, indeed.” The tone changes here and makes a different meaning.
Such statement was never made in recognition or appraisal of the Carpenter’s son. Never!
It Was quite ridiculous
It was defamatory and demeaning.
In fact, it was nothing but a defamation in affirmation and derecognition in recognition
By this statement: “Is not this Joseph’s son, indeed?,” they wanted to give Jesus a human designation, a human name, determine his destiny, place him in a box and limit his Massianic role as the Christos (anointed one). Jesus never allowed himself to be limited in any capacity or confined by what the said about him.
*THE MOTIVE BEHIND THE REJECTION OF JESUS BY HIS OWN PEOPLE*
It is crystal clear that the four gospels reported Jesus’ rejection by his own people:
(i) Mtt 13: 53-58 = Is he not the son of Joseph?
(ii) Mk 6:1-6 (Astonishment in the synagogue after his teaching)
(iii) Jn 7:1-9 = They’re sought to kill him. (Jn 7:45-47 – why haven’t you brought him?).
And finally, in today’s gospel:
(iv) Lk 4:21-30 (Gospel of today).
*WHY WAS JESUS REJECTED?*
Judaism affirms that Jesus did not fulfill the messianic prophecies by:
(a) Ushering in an era of universal peace (Isaiah 2:4)
(b) Building the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26–28)
(c) Gatherings all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5–6).
Judaism deems the worship of any person a form of idolatry, rejecting the claims that Jesus was divine, an intermediary to God, or part of a Trinity.
The Jews believe the Messiah will be a direct (blood) descendant of King David through Solomon on his father’s side and will be born naturally to a husband and wife (Genesis 49:10, Isaiah 11:1, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:17; Ezekiel 34:23–24).
However, in response to His rejection, Jesus said, ” A prophet is not without honour except in his home town.” By so doing, Jesus identified himself with prophets:
• Elijah had to run to the mountain when Ahab wanted to kill him
• Daniel was put into the Lion’s den
• Jeremiah was imprisoned in Jerusalem until the city was destroyed.
*REJECTION IS INEVITABLE IN LIFE*
The theme of rejection is a very important aspect of today’s liturgy. Infact, it is a sine qua non in our journey to stardom.Those who reject you are most probably, those who have sworn to kill your dreams, demoralise your spirit and are ready to maime and act as destiny destroyers. The fact of life is that, back-throwers or those who reject you are inevitable in life. You cannot avoid them. They are everywhere, no matter the profession or vocation. Only strive never to allow them discourage or set you back.
Alot of biblical figures, especially, in the Old Testament were hesitant towards their vocation for fear of rejection or failure.
• Joseph’s dreams caused his brothers anger and envy. He faced rejections on his road to stardom.
•Job’s faithfulness to God lured him to suffer false accusations and rejections from family and friends
• Moses faced alot of heartbreaking rejections from the people who murmured against him.
At least twice in his lifetime, the prophet Elijah gave the warning
of God to King Ahab concerning the king’s promotion of idolatry. As a result, Elijah was forced to flee into the wilderness where he suffered great privation (I Kgs 16: 29- 17: 3; I Kgs 18: 16 – 19: 4).
(2) *NEVER ALLOW OVER FAMILIARITY TO BREED CONTEMPT*
Jesus’ kinsmen refused to accept him, probably, because of over familiarity. They knew him, son of the carpenter (Bar Joseph). Sometimes, over closeness and familiarity with the sacred and ministers of God in our faith-based life, if not properly guided could facilitate loss of the sense of sacredness, thereby breeding contempt. Many get to the point of seeing the church as a mere social club or gathering. Sometimes we could get used to sacred things that we loose sense of the sacred and begin to perpetuate evil and promote all forms of atrocities in the house of God. It happened to Saul, he lost respect for God and neglected the instructions from the priest. It happened to the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, together with the sons of Samuel, Joel and Abijah; They ended up in shame. Beware! (1Sam 16:14).
(3) *DO NOT ALLOW PEOPLE TO PLACE YOU IN A BOX*
One of the worst mistakes we can make is to allow people determine our destiny and limit us by placing us in a box. (mmadu anaghi adi mma idi ka ihe eji koo ya onu). Jesus never allowed that in his own case.
The greatest of all motivators and propellers to one’s destiny are those who reject, throw us back or deny us favours and opportunities.
Whenever you remember them, you get more reason and motivated to work harder so as to prove them wrong and shame the devil. One needs undaunting courage and consistency.
Finally, the Walt Disney Company, an American multinational entertainment and media conglomerate headquartered at the Walt Disney Studios complex in Burbank, California, is today known as one of the world’s most creative TV programs. Walter Elias Disney, the founder, was once fired in his first attempt as a employee in a News Paper Company, because of lack of creativity. But today, he ranks as one of the most creative minds the world has ever produced in storytelling, movies and cartoon animations.
The same thing is applicable to Michael Jordan. Once the name, Michael Jordan is mentioned, you think of Basketball. At his first attempt in joining a club, he was rejected by a team, because of lack of height and proper skills. But he never gave up. He rose above drawbacks and rose to stardom.
Beloved in Christ, have have you given up in any capacity because of rejection or lack of encouragements, keep on being stout-hearted and resilient in achieving your feat and actualizing your possibilities.
MAY THE GOOD LORD GRANT US THE PROPHETIC COURAGE ANIMATED BY MISSIONARY OPTIMISM IN THE PRACTICE OF OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH. AMEN!
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_