Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday of the Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

So many of us have discovered our family connections going back generations through DNA and the ability, through Ancestry and 23 and ME, to make contacts with relatives we never thought we had. I know of individuals who have discovered siblings unknown to them and children they never knew they helped bring into the world. Discovering the intricacies of our ancestral ties is not always comfortable!!! I could go into more detail on this but better not; people may get the wrong idea.

Jesus was not very concerned about our biological ties and blood relations. This caused him many problems within his own community, evidenced when he preached his reflection after reading from the prophet Isaiah in today’s gospel. The Spirit of the Lord was upon Jesus, the Spirit calling him to proclaim liberty to captives, to make the blind see, to free the oppressed, to bring joy to the poor. Beautiful words, with prophetic power.

But Jesus didn’t stop there, he never does, but continued to speak of salvation coming primarily to the outsider: the widow from Zarapheth and Naaman the Syrian. These outsiders are the ones who seemed to get the message. But his own people, those related to him and knew him the best, were outraged because they thought they had a cornerstone on salvation. After all, salvation comes from the Chosen Ones, first and foremost. Jesus clearly isn’t so concerned about biological ties and family/religious loyalties. And he was flat out rejected by his own people.

The words of Jesus sting: a prophet has no honor in his own home town and within his own family. They thought they knew Jesus, they thought they would be the recipients of whatever goodness he came to bring. They ended up in rage, wanting to “eliminate him” by throwing him off a cliff!!!! They wanted to kill him.

If this world of ours is ever going to get beyond concerns about biological connectedness, enclosed family loyalty, an “us against them” mentality, or a “your in or you are out” way of thinking... we have to search through our spiritual connectedness, how we are related by love and not blood. We are brothers and sisters to each other, members of a very large family, created by the same God. The more this sinks in, the more the divisions between us will be healed.

Fr. Frank