2021 14th Sunday of the Year ( B )
“A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house.” Why do you think that is? I asked myself why should a prophet be despised, ignored, not listened to, in his own country? Was it because he was too familiar? Was it because he was trying to teach people who knew better? Did they not liked to be preached to, and especially by one of their own? So I’m not exactly sure why a prophet gets this treatment but I think the answer is in there somewhere.
I must admit that I find it hard to preach when I know members of my family are present. It’s true; I get self-conscious. I can almost hear the members of my family listening to me and thinking: “hmm. He’s good at talking, but we know another side to him. Indeed they do. They have seen me grow up; they know all my faults and failings, the things I did wrong, my traits of character; how my words don’t always match my deeds. I’m thinking of all these things while preaching.
Christ, we can presume, practised what he preached but still he was openly rejected. How hard that must have been for him, to be rejected by his own. He wasn’t preaching his own message but that of God’s. I suppose it could be argued that he didn’t have to preach in his hometown, that he could have kept quiet and just observed. That would have been the easy way out; be there but not do anything, not say anything. In that way he would have been accepted like a long-lost son. But Jesus can’t keep quiet. It’s not that he’s stubborn: “I’ll preach to these people if it’s the last thing I do!” No, he’s not stubborn. Rather he’s compelled to preach. He can’t stop himself. There is a flame burning within him that cannot be put out. He wants to tell these people above all about God, about His love and mercy. He wants to change their lives, make them better people. Ultimately, he wants them to have the same flame burning within them.
You see, Jesus is a classical prophet: he has to preach. He can’t stop himself preaching. And this because the love of God is burning in his heart; it is a love that he wants to share with others, because he can’t keep it to himself. Jesus will eventually pay the price for this; he will be put to death for daring to preach. But paradoxically his greatest sermon was when he was nailed to the cross. No words could express more clearly the message of God’s love for us. It was something he was prepared to die for and indeed did die. He preaches not only to his own people but to us too; so that we too might catch that fire of love.