4th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Fr Peter Chinnappan
Fourth Sunday (Feb 3/2019) Jer. 1:4-5, 17-19; 1 Cor. 12:31–13:13; Luke 4:21-30.
Introduction: The central theme of today’s readings is that we should have and show the courage of our Christian convictions in our faith and its practice in our communities, even when we face hatred and rejection because of our Christian faith.
Scripture lessons: The first reading tells us how God called Jeremiah as His prophet and equipped him to face opposition and rejection. In his prophetic vocation, which he lived out while encountering rejection and persecution, Jeremiah anticipated Jesus, the greatest of all prophets. In the second reading, we hear Paul speaking with the courage of his convictions in correcting the Corinthian Christian community where the exercise of God’s gifts was causing competition, jealousy and divisiveness. He courageously presents to them a “way” which surpasses all others, namely, the way of love and instructs them to exercise their gifts with love. Today’s Gospel is a continuation of last Sunday’s gospel presenting his own people’s reaction to Jesus’ “Inaugural Address” at the synagogue of Nazareth. The passage shows us how Jesus faced skepticism and criticism with prophetic courage. Jeremiah, Paul and Jesus believed that they were commissioned by God to proclaim a disturbing prophetic message (Jer 1: 4-5, 17-19). No matter how strong the opposition, the three had the conviction that God was with them.
1) We need to face rejection with prophetic courage and optimism. Perhaps we have experienced the pain of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, violated trust, neglect or abuse, even from friends and family members, when we reached out to them as God’s agents of healing and saving grace. Perhaps we ourselves are guilty of such rejection. Perhaps we, too, have been guilty of ignoring or humiliating people with our arrogance and prejudice. Let us learn to correct our mistakes and face rejection from others with courage.
2) Let us not, like the people in Jesus’ hometown, reject God in our lives. We reject God when we are unwilling to be helped by God, or by others. Such unwillingness prevents us from recognizing God’s directions, help and support in our lives through His words in the Bible, through the teaching of the Church, and through the advice and examples of others.
3) We need to follow Christ, not political correctness, and to speak the truth of Christ without being hypocritical or disrespectful. We must never remain silent in the face of evil for fear of being thought “politically incorrect.” Jesus taught us to love and respect others without condoning or encouraging sinful behavior. We need to be kind, charitable, honest, forgiving, but clear in speaking out our Christian convictions as Jesus was when he spoke in the synagogue.