Newspapers had not been invented but the headlines might have read, “Local Boy Makes a Good Impression in the Synagogue.” Word got around fast that Jesus was coming home. His fame as a healer had spread. The Synagogue must have been jammed with people curious to hear Him.
No television, no cell phones, no I Pads. For news, entertainment, any kind of distraction—the Synagogue was the center of society. Local gossip took place at the water holes—market places. Wasn’t often that a famous personality visited Nazareth, much less a “home grown” boy. Everybody knew Jesus since childhood. They knew His parents—that He was the carpenter’s Son. Folks knew His relatives, His friends, His teachers. Sort of like being from Falfurrias or La Feria or Rio Hondo—everybody knew everybody. When a local Son from a small town becomes famous—then the whole town shares in the glory. That’s exactly what happened when Jesus came home. He had made a name for Himself. One day Jesus was hammering nails and the next thing He was raising the dead to life—healing the blind—the lepers. From and ordinary Son of a carpenter to being called Rabbi. People respected Him. Even the local clergy considered Him a threat to their authority because He advocated change. Obviously some folks liked Him and others did not. All the more reason that people wanted to see Him in action. On the Sabbath Jesus came to the local Synagogue and proclaimed the beautiful reading from Isaiah.
He could not have been more eloquent. Jesus left everybody with their mouth opened. How He had grown! As in every small town the fear is that the local talent, usually the most talented move away when they grow up and are never seen again. Jesus was the exception. He retuned to His hometown. He bothered to visit the old familiar neighbors and best of all—their church—their Synagogue. Everybody looked intently at Him. They were hungry for Truth. The encounter confirmed their love for Him and His love for them. All was great until the crowd realized that whatever Jesus was doing involved them.
Just like today, lots of folks think that being a Christian is about belonging to a religion and not much else. Glad tidings to the poor, liberty to captives, freeing the oppressed is not going to happen by itself. Pope Francis said, “First we pray for the hungry then we feed them.” Jesus set the example. He didn’t have an office, or a house, or retirement benefits. 99% of the Gospel is about Jesus on the road—touching people, meeting people, listening to them. Jesus lived what He preached. Therein lies a wide margin of difference between the urgency of the message and our life style. We can’t come to Church on the weekend and then dust off our hands and say, “I’m done. I’m finished for the week. See you next time Lord.” We don’t come to Church to be impressed but to be commissioned. The prophecy of Isaiah has happened, is happening, but is not yet completed. There are still many poor people around, still those who have not heard the massage of freedom and countless who are oppressed. Our Faith is not about being spectators—watching to see what happens next.
We are the doers—the ones sent to make the Gospel come alive. Simple, ordinary ways, starting at home, at school, where we work. First by personal example, then by invitation to meet the person with whom we have fallen in love—Jesus Christ. He is not only our Lord and Savior whom we admire, but the example we want to imitate.