Love Not Hate

07-07-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Bing Colasito

Jesus visited His native place and went to the Synagogue on the day of the Sabbath. Since they heard good things about Him, they asked if He could say something; He took the opportunity to teach them. At first, they loved every word He preached and were astonished at His wisdom. But after a moment, they questioned His credibility and credentials. They could not believe that someone they knew could attain such wisdom and perform mighty deeds, and they took offense at Him. Familiarity breeds contempt. What started as an innocent question turned into contempt, doubt, rejection, and refusal to believe and have faith in Jesus.

The readings give us a picture and example of how biases could lead to disbelief, hardness of heart, and lack of faith. This condition of the heart indisposed us to the mercy and love of God; Jesus could not perform any healing. The power was there, but if the people professed no faith, they refused to receive His grace. So, Jesus left and went to other villages to heal and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

The Lord sends the prophet Ezekiel in the 1st reading to the people of Israel to convey His message. Prophets spoke on behalf of God. They are messengers who bring the message of God, however unpopular and painful it could be, especially for the people of Israel, who are known to be obstinate and rebellious. The Lord knows their rebellious heart but does not give up on them. Through Ezekiel, God wants to convey His message and bring them back to Him. Interestingly, the people of this time are as rebellious as those of old. We are no different from the Jews during those days. Yes! We have the Sacred Scriptures and the Church to remind us of His Law and Will, yet the lack of faith and unbelief persist.

Everyone knew Jesus, His parents, Joseph and Mary, His kin, and the extended family. He is known as a carpenter following the trade of His father. He is the son of Mary; they know his cousins and all the family. Speaking at the Synagogue on a Sabbath, Jesus amazed His listeners with His wisdom, eloquence, power, and the authority of His teachings. They heard the mighty deeds He has done in other places; they want to see His power to heal and exorcize at work. But they could not even believe His wisdom. They rejected Him not because of what He said or did but because He is too familiar. They questioned His humble beginnings, credibility, qualifications, and even His family. God works through such an ordinary person. Instead of having faith in Jesus, they allowed their prejudices or biases to reign in their hearts. Do we believe that God could speak to us in ordinary events of our lives?

There is a saying in my country: When people throw stones at a mango tree, it is because of the fruits. It is sad to admit, but this sometimes applies to human beings as well. Sometimes, people throw stones at us not out of envy or bias; some do not want others to grow and ensure that no one goes really ahead or stays ahead always. Insecure people tend to pull down, slow down, and ruin others, known as the crab mentality in humans. Remember, sometimes people throw stones at us because we bear much fruit or stab us in the back because we are ahead of them.

Despite His kin's lack and absence of FAITH, He did not give up on them. In the same way, we must not give up on one another. Instead, may we live a life of gratitude for all the blessings, forgiveness, and providences we received from God. Rejected by His paisano, town mates, Jesus could have turned angry and disgusted, but instead, He took no offense at them. The Gospel teaches us a powerful example of not going down to the level of our detractors and not playing the ugly game of destroying and condemning. Lord, help us listen to you and speak goodness at all times. Say yes to love and life with no ifs and buts.