(Luke 4:21-30) I have sometimes thought that if I had lived in Jesus’ day, it would be so much easier to believe in Him. Can you imagine how amazing it would be to see people healed from leprosy and the blind given their sight? Can you imagine what it would have been like to be part of the crowd of 5,000 people, listening to Jesus teach as you all ate your fill of five loaves and two fish? And if you had seen Lazarus walk out of the tomb after Jesus raised him from the dead, could you have seriously had any doubts that Jesus truly was the Son of God?
Yet, somehow it wasn’t that simple. Today’s Gospel highlights the opposition that Jesus faced when He returned to teach in the synagogue of His hometown, Nazareth. While His words amazed them, the people didn’t believe in Him. Instead, they were scandalized! We can imagine the uproar that He caused … “Isn’t this Joseph’s son? How dare He be so presumptuous to think that He could stand up and teach us! He’s just a boy who played in our streets. He didn’t receive any training as a rabbi. He’s just a carpenter’s son!” They had heard of the miracles that He had done at Capernaum, but they wanted proof that He wasn’t a charlatan.
Jesus reminded the Jewish people that they had always been lacking in faith. Although there were many starving widows in the time of Elijah, the only one who had a miracle performed for her was a widow who lived not in Israel, but in Sidon. Her faith was so great that she shared her last meal with Elijah, trusting in God’s promise that if she did so, she would always have enough to eat until the drought was over (1 Kings 17:8-16). In a similar way, although there were many lepers in Israel at the time of the prophet Elisha, the only one who was healed was Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Syria (2 Kings 5:1-19). Sadly, God had many graces that He longed to distribute among the people of Israel, but they lacked faith in His promises. Jesus understood that no matter how many miracles He might do in Nazareth, they would never believe in Him.
We aren’t all that different – history has a way of repeating itself. Miracles happen around us every day, but like the people of Nazareth, we refuse to recognize them for what they are. We want to rationalize miracles, to bring them down to our own level of human understanding, perhaps because we are afraid of what it might mean to acknowledge that God is acting in our lives. Yet God is present among us; He loves us and is longing for us to believe in Him, to turn to Him, and to entrust ourselves to His Divine Providence. God’s blessings are abundant; we just need to have faith!
– Sharon van der Sloot