4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

As the saying goes: ‘Home is where the heart is’ and Jesus’ home should have been in Nazareth. When Jesus leaves Nazareth today, after being effectively ‘run out of town’ he becomes homeless. Unlike the foxes and the birds, He has nowhere to lay His head, but Jesus home was where His heart was, which is in the Father and in us. To understand this, we need to understand today’s Gospel.    

    So, have a good look at today’s Gospel, no, I mean have a really good look at it. Read the first and last paragraphs and miss out the two paragraphs in the middle. Does it make sense? It didn’t to me at first. The questions it raised for me were: How can Jesus be so popular at first and then suddenly become so unpopular, even to the point where they want to kill him by throwing him off a cliff? What happened in between that brought about such a dramatic change in their opinion of him? To coin a modern phrase, why did Jesus go from ‘Hero to Zero’ in such a short time? What did he do or say that enraged them and turned them against him? Did those in the synagogue not accept what Jesus was saying? or did they simply not understand what he was trying to tell them? There are a lot of questions there and the answers to them can be found in the middle two paragraphs of this Gospel, but to understand the answers to the questions, we first need to try and understand what Jesus was telling them.

    He was, I think, trying to explain to them that his mission here on earth was for the benefit of all people, not just the Jews. He tried to get them to understand this by reminding them of two prophets of old, Elijah and Elisha. He illustrated this by telling them what happened to those prophets and that “no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.” Perhaps they found it difficult to understand or accept that Jesus was not theirs exclusively, not there just for the Jews, but that he was there for the benefit of all peoples. Well, whatever it was that Jesus said or did that turned them against him, it certainly had the consequence of him having to escape their wrath by slipping away through the crowd.

    It’s often thought that we have a habit in this country of building people up into heroes, whether they be T.V. or film stars or sportsmen or women, putting them on a pedestal, making them ‘celebrities’ only to knock them down again just as quickly. It seems to me that this is not a new ‘media crazy/celebrity crazed’ phenomenon, it was happening to Jesus two thousand years ago. The difference being of course, that Jesus was a man of real substance and not merely a product of hype and publicity and self importance. A man who’s only concern was to do good things for others with no reward for himself. A man, who shunned publicity and recognition, not courted it. His life was to be a mixture of adulation and aggravation as this Gospel story today clearly illustrates for us. Perhaps the Jews in the synagogue didn’t have the capacity to see beyond their initial impression of Jesus, maybe if they had they would not only have seen, but truly understood the real substance of this man. 

    So whenever you think of this Gospel, remember that the saying ‘Home is where the heart is’ is not just the title of a popular TV series of the 80’s and 90’s, it’s where Jesus love is. It’s in our hearts and we need to be in His too.           


3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time    

Well, what did you think of Jesus’ first homily? He didn’t start with a good story, and He didn’t tell a joke, He just said all He thought needed saying after reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. The cynics among us may say that at least it was short – very short- one sentence, just ten words...“This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” We are told that all eyes were fixed on him as he began to speak to them. The homily Jesus gave was perfect, and how true it still is two thousand years or so after it was said by our Lord in the synagogue. 

    No matter what the text is, the word of God is being fulfilled even as we listen. Someone, somewhere, is taking the good news to the poor, setting captives and the downtrodden free, blind people are having their sight restored. All of this is going on all over the world in many different ways. It may be that clergy and other missionary workers are spreading the word of the Lord to people in the third world. Perhaps those who have been victims of miscarriages of justice are finally being released. Surgeons perform sight saving and sight giving operations daily. No matter what form it takes, the works of God, through the words of the prophet Isaiah, which Jesus read out in the synagogue, are being fulfilled even as we ourselves, are listening to the word of God being proclaimed here today.

    I don’t know about you, but when I read this Gospel, especially the quote from Isaiah, I found myself singing that great hymn we have: ‘God’s spirit is in my heart.’ Think about it, ‘He sent me to give the Good News to the poor, tell prisoners that they are prisoners no more, tell blind people that they can see, and set the downtrodden free…’ It’s in your head now, isn’t it? Well, maybe that’s no bad thing as it will remind you of this Gospel. 

    Luke, at the beginning of today’s Gospel is telling us basically about an account of events being documented for posterity. He tells of an ‘ordered account’ being written, of how others had written accounts based on the words of eyewitnesses to the events as they happened. Today, eyewitness accounts of major events are captured on camera as well as in written form for posterity. This probably gives us a more comprehensive account of those events. Just think how wonderful it would have been if today’s technology had been available to the the evangelists. I’m sure it would have made their mission a lot easier. Ah well, life is full of ‘what ifs’ isn’t it.

    What we need to concentrate on is the fact that the proof of these words are to be seen all around us, everywhere, everyday. As I mentioned earlier, “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen”. We just have to listen, the truth is out there.

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Changing water into wine is recognised as the first of the miracles that Jesus performed, and perhaps one of the best known, certainly in the top three, up there with the feeding of the five thousand and the raising of Lazarus. 

     I think it’s interesting that the word ‘sign’ is used, not ‘miracle’. John’s Gospel says, ‘This was the first of the signs given by Jesus: it was given at Cana in Galilee.’ No-one apart from Mary and Jesus recognised the ‘Sign’ that it was time for Jesus to perform an act we now class as His first miracle. 

        This is the only time we hear of His mother, Mary, asking Him to do something for others. She says, “They have no wine.” Jesus replies, “Woman why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.” She then tells the servants to “Do whatever he tells you.” Jesus then proceeds to turn the six stone jars of water into wine.

    So why was Jesus so reluctant to act on this request by His mother? Maybe He didn’t feel the time was right for Him. So why then did He do it? Maybe He didn’t want to let His mother down, or maybe He felt for the predicament that the bridegroom would be in if He did nothing. Maybe He just recognised the ‘sign’ for what it was, a calling to start this aspect of His ministry. We don’t know the reason why this became His first miracle. What we do know, is that it was to become the first of many, and all of them for the benefit of others, never for Himself.

    In all the accounts we have in scripture regarding the miracles that Jesus performed, we never hear of Him doing these things for any other reason than to help others. We too are called to do good for others, for no other reason than the fact that what is done will benefit them and not ourselves. A kind and selfless act, one which is done without any ulterior motive or reward for ourselves. This is what Jesus’ teaching is asking of us, and He led by example. This is what we see in His ministry.

    Jesus will have known what the consequences of His actions would be by performing this miracle. He would have known that once the word of His actions spread, there would be no ‘turning back’ for Him. This was a very powerful thing He was doing. 

    Many years ago, I was very lucky to visit the Louvre in Paris. The largest painting, which takes up a whole wall is ‘The Wedding at Cana’ by Veronesse.

It’s so stunning, powerful and detailed, that you almost feel that you are actually there, taking part in the event. The power of the painting really does help to convey the power and enormity of that first miracle. It certainly has the ‘Wow’ factor. 

    I wonder if the power, and enormity of what Jesus did at that wedding, had the ‘Wow’ factor on His disciples? I think the answer to that is summed  up in the last line of Today’s Gospel: ‘He let His glory be seen, and His disciples believed in Him.’