Scholars say the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus was the first story told by his disciples and the first story written down. Other accounts followed it and point to it, and many of them, like the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth are part of the mystery of his death and resurrection.
Luke today 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 not many from Nazareth accompanied him there. Some women from Galilee stand by his cross as he dies. Still, Jesus didn’t find much acceptance in Nazareth.. “He came to his own and his own received him not.”
The great Cross 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 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 be nailed to a cross, but rejection by “our own,” maybe someone close to us, will always be a way we share in the sufferings of Jesus. At the same time let’s not forget the suffering we can bring others by rejecting “our own”.
Nazareth where Jesus was rejected is not far from us.
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 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.