The gospel readings this week are not just from one gospel, as they usually are. The readings this week after the Epiphany to the Baptism of the Lord ( January 7-12) are from the four gospels and each tells us that Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, manifested himself to all. In Psalm 2 (Monday) God says “I will give you all the nations as an inheritance.” Jesus gives himself to all.
This week each gospel points to the universal mission of Jesus already evident as he ministers to the people of his own time and place. Matthew’s gospel on Monday says he began his ministry in the “Galilee of the Gentiles.” “Great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.” Gentiles from the Decapolis and beyond the Jordan as well as Jews were already approaching him. Matthew 4,12-17, 24-25)
In the readings from Mark’s Gospel for Tuesday and Wednesday, Jesus multiplies the loaves and the fish on the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee and then sets out on the sea for the other side, the pagan side, to bring the blessings of these signs to them also. (Mark 6)
On Thursday and Friday, there are excerpts from Luke’s Gospel. On Friday Luke recounts the cure of the leper. The leper’s cure promises that Jesus will reach out to all the abandoned throughout the world.
On Saturday, in the reading from John, John the Baptist recognizes that Jesus “is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.” Jesus will bring the waters of life to all.
Luke’s reading for Thursday, though, is somewhat puzzling. Jesus goes to Nazareth where he was raised and is rejected, but notice Luke’s reading for that day ends before the account of his rejection: “And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” (Luke 4, 14-22)
That’s the way we would have liked Nazareth to respond to the presence of Jesus when he first came there, but the town rejected him and Jesus never returned, the gospels say.
Do our readings this week offer the promise that Jesus, as the Risen Christ entrusted with the mission to save all, always returns to the hard places and most resistant people?
That means we’re not to give up on the Nazareths of this world that seem too far gone, too faithless, to ever hear the gospel. “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you,” our psalm says.