Luke’s Gospel begins the ministry of Jesus with his rejection in his hometown of Nazareth. Rejection is an important part of the mystery of his death and resurrection. Jesus lived most of his life in Nazareth among “his own.” (Luke 4,24-30) Yet, as he begins his ministry he is rejected by ” his own” in their synagogue, 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 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 followed him to Jerusalem.
The lenten gospels tell us rejection doesn’t stop God’s mercy and love. On Calvary Jesus shows God’s love in his outstretched arms.
We share in the great mystery of his death and resurrection. We may never be nailed to a cross as 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.
Lord, 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.