“Can’t win them all.” If anyone knew what not winning meant, it was Jesus Christ. His popularity went from being the top star to being the most disliked person in town. One moment He was being praised by all and then the same people wanted to kill Him.
We know from our life experience that popular opinion can change from one day to another. The determining factors are the stock market, the price of gasoline, the availability of commodities. We pretend to be interested in world problems; but truth be told, how the economy affects our pockets has much more power on how we vote. The desire to be the most important is a motivation for most people. “I am proud to be an American!” I am proud to be a Mexican!” What does that mean? What image comes to mind when we say such things? Usually, the meaning has to do with importance, power, prestige. The folks in the synagogue felt that they were important, especially when a local boy who had made a great name for Himself came home to visit. They were proud of Him. They wanted to claim Him. Jesus was from Nazareth and the hometown people felt that they had had something to do with His success. All was going well until Jesus told the hometown folks that they were not so great. He quoted passages from the first and second Book of Kings. Jesus pointed out to them that God chose a widow and a foreigner over their ancestors. In other words, the line of pure blood Jews wasn’t so pure. They had many skeletons in the closet of their mistakes and the mistakes were recorded in the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures. The hometown folks got very angry with Jesus because no one likes to be told that they are not the best.
False pride, which feeds the false self is dangerous, but popular. History shows that we have not always been the “first” or the “best” or the “moral leaders”. The competition continues. Who’s got the best vaccine? What country will irradicate Covid? How dare God put someone else before us! We know that He has because we are a young Nation. We declare buildings that are over 100 years old as historical sites, while in Europe 100 years is what is required to build a cathedral. Some of our streets get potholes within a few years; while in other countries streets over 1,000 years old have withstood the test of time. Guess we can’t be the best at everything. Sometimes God chooses others to bestow His favors. That’s all that Jesus was trying to tell the people who were so full of themselves that they had stopped listening.
There’s a big difference between what we want to hear and the truth. Exaggerations are more interesting. Rumors are more popular. Who cares about the truth? Why ask if we really do not want to know? If we constantly tell lies, we begin to believe the lies. Same applies to our lifestyle. If we are unfaithful in our marriage the infidelity starts to become acceptable. Jesus Christ is our wakeup call. He helps us to face who we are and what needs to change. Of course, there must be a willingness on our part. The folks in the synagogue did not want to change. They refused to hear the truth about their faults. Fact is that they felt so insulted that they were ready to kill Jesus. Murders happen at the hands of people who do not want to hear the truth. Resisting arrest. Leaving the scene of a crime. Leaving the scene of an accident. “You can run, but you can’t hide.” Sooner or later the truth catches up with us. We cannot run from ourselves, although many try. Every person has committed sins. Only Jesus and the Blessed Mother are exempt. Everyone else has a history that is not free from sins. None of us are perfect, therefore there is always room for improvement. Jesus challenges us to rely more on God’s grace and less on our false self that is fed by the ego.
The time for change is now. Not when we make the spiritual retreat or go on vacation or move away. Christ compels us to leave the past and begin a new life with Him.