Have you ever left home for an extended period? Perhaps to study or travel? It’s not uncommon for some family or friends who, regardless of why you’ve left, or how long you’ve been away for, can only see you as that version of you prior to your departure. No prophet is accepted in their home. But that’s not all that’s happening in this Sunday’s Gospel.
At the mention of Elijah and Elisha, the people become enraged. Why? What’s so infuriating about these two prophets? Luke’s Gospel, addressed to the Gentile Christian community, often references stories and prophets from the Old Testament. The author utilises the Jewish Scriptures to foreshadow the broadening of God’s covenant to include all people – Jews and Gentiles. In referencing Elijah and Elisha’s miracles to non-Israelites, Jesus makes clear his ministry is more than a redemption of Israel, it’s redemption for every person.
Now, imagine you are one of the people in that home crowd. Here is the Son of Joseph, one of your own, seemingly gaining some momentum, influence or power as a teacher, healer and miracle-maker. He is your ticket out of poverty and suffering. And yet, he stands amongst you, his people, his family, declaring that he’s not committed to you alone?
So, we see that this Gospel is not so much about Jesus not feeling accepted. Really, it is about Nazareth’s inability to accept that Jesus’ ministry is not just for them. Perhaps for ambition or selfishness or just plain fear, they become unable to see Christ even as he moved among them. Jesus didn’t have to resist, run away or escape, he’s able to “pass through their midst”, as if they were unable to grasp the presence of God right there with them.
Similarly, Christ passes through our midst when fail to move beyond personal encounter and transformation. We live half-gospels if we never share the joy of that encounter and transformation with others. We have Good News, that through the life, death and resurrection of Christ, we find our true home in God.