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Love unifies body of Christ

Based on the Readings Jer 1:4-5, 17-19 and 1 Cor 12:31-13:13 and on the Gospel of Lk 4:21-30
No easy tasks!

Jeremiah the prophet faced a difficult assignment. He had to tell the Judeans that because of their sinfulness they would be evicted from the Promised Land by Babylon’s power. The authorities in Jerusalem accused him of blasphemy and tried many times to kill him. Today’s first reading reveals God encouraging Jeremiah to remain firm and determined in doing God’s will despite the opposition.

Jeremiah’s plight previewed what Jesus faces in this Sunday’s Gospel. Last Sunday we heard that Jesus ended his sermon in the synagogue in Nazareth by telling the crowd he was the Messiah. In this week’s Gospel we learn that initially the people “spoke highly” of Jesus and were excited about his preaching. They also kept asking, “Isn’t he the son of Joseph the carpenter?”

As Jesus continues speaking of prophets like Elijah and Elisha and proclaiming that the Good News is for all people and not just for the Jews, the people get angry. Because Jesus is a hometown boy and worked among them as a carpenter, because he did not fit into their idea of a powerful Messiah with military might and political clout, their initial admiration for Jesus turns to murderous rage. They want to push Jesus off a cliff. But he slips through the crowd and escapes.

Jesus was amazed and saddened at the people of Nazareth’s lack of faith. He left Nazareth and spent time teaching, preaching and performing miracles in the neighboring villages.

The reactions of people and challenges faced by Jesus are no different from the way people react to us when we speak about our faith, God’s love for everyone and as we try to live our faith. As Catholics, we uphold, among other professed beliefs, the sanctity of life, the sacrament of marriage, the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and ongoing care for the poor and needy.

Today’s Gospel and the resentment Jesus encountered give us courage. He promised to be with us, to guide us and to help us remain faithful to his teachings.

In the beautiful hymn on love in the reading from First Corinthians, Paul points out that love is what unifies the body of Christ. It is a reflection of Jesus’ love and our greatest spiritual gift. It should be the measure of all we do.