Once the Olympics were over, athletes who won medals returned home to applause and in some instances, parades! No so with Jesus. He returned home and joined others for a service in the synagogue. He rose to speak and said the spirit of the Lord had sent Him to bring glad tidings to the poor. There was no applause or parades. The reaction was mixed. Some were amazed that such words could come from His mouth since they remember Him as a young man, and they knew His parents, Joseph and Mary.
I tried to imagine what took place in the synagogue that Sabbath. What did He say to them that infuriated some of them so much that they wanted to drive Him out of the temple and out of Nazareth?
He said to them what he has been saying to us. He challenged them to look deeper. He reminded them of what was done to other prophets who came among them and how, like their ancestors, they too were closed minded to the good news that God was offering them. There were some fundamental differences between Jesus and others as to what constitutes religion.
In the gospel this Sunday, we saw the preoccupation that some observant Jews had with washing hands, cups, jugs, etc. They appeared to be primarily concerned with laws and the traditions of their ancestors whereas Jesus was about caring for orphans and widows in their afflictions while keeping oneself unstained by the world. For Jesus, keeping the Torah was not about self-preservation or self-perfection but was about establishing and safeguarding right relationships with God, self, and neighbor.
We know His message today from the gospels and New Testament letters we hear and read. Some in the synagogue that day were hearing Him for the first time and not all liked what they heard. Some were upset when He implied that more could have been done for them like what was done for the widow and the leper, but they were not receptive to the messages from God that the prophets with delivering.
In the synagogue, Jesus rose and said the Spirit of the Lord was with Him. The Spirit of the Lord came to us at our baptism. What are we willing to shed, change, to let go of in order to allow the Spirit of freedom to work through us today? Can we envision our homes and our lives as domestic churches where we engage Jesus in prayer and allow Him to speak to us through our Scriptures as He spoke to his contemporaries in the synagogue?
Father Leo's inspirational homily was recorded live this morning during Mass at the Father Peyton Center. Please view the video on our Facebook page.(You don't need a Facebook account to view.)
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About Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C.
Father Leo Polselli, C.S.C. is Chaplain at the Father Peyton Center in Easton, MA. Before coming to Holy Cross Family Ministries he served as a teacher and a parish priest. He also served for six years as a General Assistant of the Congregation in Rome, Italy. Originally from Fall River, MA, Father Leo grew up with eight siblings. Gifted with several languages, he is able to serve the Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Portuguese, Spanish and Haitian communities. When he's not greeting everyone who comes to the Father Peyton Center, you can find him regularly reading newspapers!