1Thes 4:13-18; Ps 96:1-13; Lk 4:16-30
This is the song that the Psalmist invites us to join today in the high praise of God. We are to tell his glory among the nations, and among all peoples, his wondrous deeds. For all the gods of the nations are things of total insignificance, they are non-entities; it is the LORD made the heavens, Him alone and no other. The Lord Our God summons all creation to join us in the praise of His Glory, and likewise we are to welcome his rule over all the nations and us. This is the joy of our salvation; this is the dignity of the People the Lord has called to be his own! Indeed, the Lord God is Lord alone, and He is the sovereign over the living and the dead. Saint Paul comforts his grieving brothers and sisters among the Thessalonians with this insight into the faith of the church. The Lord Jesus himself announces from early on in his ministry that The Kingdom of God has begun in our hearing of the Word of the Lord and will be fulfilled in His future coming. Such is the unexpected arrival of the Lord of Glory.
Saint Paul reminds us all of the fact that there are many who have no hope. This was true when first he wrote this letter to the Thessalonians, and it is just as true today. Even among so-called “Catholics” there are some who abandon themselves to grief. They have no hope; for them life is in the here and now, and there is no life eternal. The Apostle preaches the truth of our faith that if we believe that Jesus died and rose, we also believe that through Jesus, God will bring to life with him all those who have fallen asleep believing in Christ. Saint Paul continues, “Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.” We who await the Lord have no advantage over those who have gone before us. Just because they have died does not mean they were less glorious that us. The favor of the Lord is upon us and we all share that glory in the measure to which our hearts have been expanded by running he way of perfect love. Indeed, we will share with one another the glory beyond all measure. Such is the promise of the death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus. It is our faith then that expands our hope and enables our charity all through life.
At first the congregation in the synagogue was delighted with the words of commentary given after the Lord Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Their initial reaction was amazement at the gracious words that came from his mouth, but this was a short-lived admiration. It did not take long for their resistance and resentment to arise and dominate those of his native place. Indeed, the Lord Jesus was treated just like every other prophet. With such a rejection, why did the Lord continue to challenge his hometown congregation? All they needed to hear was how open the pagans had been to the prophets throughout their history. Elijah was supported by a poor widow in Sidon, and Elisha healed the enemy of Israel, Naaman the Syrian leper. The Lord Jesus came in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring liberation from all disease and all evil. Such a claim was too much for his neighbors to handle. They rose up and drove him out of his hometown; they even tried to hurl him headlong off the brow of the hill. However, it was not his hour for suffering and death, and he simply passed through the midst of them and walked on to other towns that would receive him and his proclamation. We are empowered by the same Holy Spirit and we continue the Master’s ministry of healing and teaching. How could we expect anything less than rejection and hostility?