Scholars say the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus was the first story his disciples told and the first story written down. Other teachings and accounts from his life were added to it and, in some way, point to it. Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth, which we read today from Luke’s Gospel, is an important part of the mystery of his death and resurrection.
Nazareth was where Jesus lived most of his life among “his own.” (Luke 4,24-30) Yet, as he begins his ministry he is rejected by ” his own” in their synagogue. It was a rejection Jesus must have carried with him; how could he forget it?
Crowds welcoming him to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday call him “the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee,” but not many from Nazareth accompanied him there. Some women from Galilee, most importantly his mother Mary, stand by his cross as he dies. Still, Jesus didn’t find much acceptance in Nazareth.. “He came to his own and his own received him not.”
The great Cross on Calvary draws attention to the physical sufferings of Jesus in his passion–the scourging, the thorns, the crucifixion. But let’s not forget his interior sufferings, especially rejection from “his own,” who knew him from the beginning. Only a few of those dear to him follow him to Jerusalem.
The lenten gospels tell us God’s mercy and love persists, even in the face of human rejection. Jesus shows God’s love in his outstretched arms on Calvary.
We also share in the great mystery of his death and resurrection. We may never be nailed to a cross like he was, but there are other ways to bear a cross. Rejection by “our own,” perhaps someone close to us, may be one way we share in the sufferings of Jesus.
Let’s not forget we can also bring suffering by rejecting “our own”. Nazareth where Jesus was rejected is not far from us.
help me face the slights the come from those close by,
from my Nazareth, from “my own.”
The mystery of your Cross is not played out on Calvary alone,
It’s played out in places and people close by,
where we live now.
Give me the grace to live in my Nazareth
as you did in yours.
I ask this grace through Jesus Christ.