1Cor 2:1-5; Ps 119:97-102; Lk 4:16-30
Those who love the law of the LORD are truly wise. Those who meditate on his precepts all day long have much insight to offer. The commands of the LORD make us wiser than our enemies, for it is ever near at hand. Indeed, we who love the commands of the LORD have more understanding than all our teachers, than all who have great knowledge and many degrees. We have more discernment than the elders, because we observe the commands of the LORD. From every evil way we withhold our feet so that we may keep the words of the LORD. Because the LORD has instructed us, we turn not away from His ordinances. Saint Paul treasured the Cross of Christ and this became his wisdom when preaching to his church in Corinth. Even the Lord Jesus amazed those among whom he preached in his hometown; his wisdom was too much for them and they tried to throw him off the cliff. When we live and move and have our being in the Word of God, our wisdom will be too much for those among whom we witness. The wisdom of the Cross of Christ often threaten those who have power and seek to maintain their influence. Such a challenge should only stir up our boldness and inflame our courage to speak the truth in love.
In the first reading Saint Paul shares about his initial experience of proclaiming the mystery of God among the Corinthians. In the gospel for today’s liturgy we read of the Lord Jesus and his first homily in the synagogue where he grew up. Both preachers relied on the power of the Holy Spirit, and both preachers were confronted with hostility and resistance. Saint Paul did not come among the Corinthians with the sublimity of his argumentation or the skill of his rhetorical power. The Apostle resolved to know nothing while he was on this mission except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Saint Paul admits his weakness, fear, and trembling. His message was unexpected and startling—the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus. He was unsure how he and his message would be received. He did not seek to use the full impact of persuasive language and rhetorical expertise. Saint Paul spoke out of his own conversion. His witness gave all the glory to God who revealed his power to forgive in the powerlessness of the Crucified One. He wanted their faith to rest not on his eloquence but on the power of God. Saint Paul took the risk of preaching the good news of human liberation from the bonds of sin and death. He proclaimed the truth of God’s love making us new in the Blood of the Lamb. This gift of salvation is not a matter of intellectual ascent; it is a matter of faith. The gift must be received in freedom, even as it has been given freely.
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 who 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?