Scholars say that the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus was the first story told by his disciples and the first story they wrote down. The other gospel stories were written down after it and point to it. Whatever gospel story we read–we’re reading about the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth from Luke’s gospel today, for example–is part of the mystery of his death and resurrection.
Luke brings us to Nazareth, where Jesus lived most of his life among “his own.” (Luke 4,24-30) As he begins his ministry he is rejected by ” his own” in their synagogue. It was a rejection Jesus must have carried with him; how could he forget it?
The crowds welcoming him to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday call him “the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee,” but few from Nazareth accompany him there. Some women from Galilee stand by his cross as he dies. Still, from what we know of Nazareth and its subsequent history, Jesus didn’t find much acceptance there. “He came to his own and his own received him not.”
The great Cross we see on Calvary draws attention to the physical sufferings of Jesus in his passion–the scourging, the thorns, the crucifixion. But let’s not forget his interior sufferings, especially the increasing rejection he experienced from “his own,” from those who knew him from the beginning and those who follow him into Jerusalem.
The lenten gospels prepare us to share in the great mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We may never share in his physical sufferings, but rejection by “our own,” maybe someone close to us, will always be one of the ways we share in the sufferings of Jesus. At the same time let’s not forget that rejecting “our own” brings suffering to others.
Nazareth where Jesus was rejected is not far from the people and the places where we live.
help me face the slights the come from those close by,
from my Nazareth, from “my own.”
The mystery of your Cross is not played out on Calvary alone,
It’s played out in the places and people close by,
where we live now.
Give me the grace to live in my Nazareth
as you did in yours.
I ask this grace through Jesus Christ.