Reflection: 3rd February 2013

A Reflection for 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Lk 4: 21-30 (

Can I suggest you treat yourself to a pre-Lenten delight?   Commendable as it may be, I am not thinking of a meal in Neven Maguire’s famous restaurant in Co. Cavan or a few days on a sun holiday to help ease away the cold and darkness of recent months.   Instead I am
strongly encouraging a trip into St Luke’s Gospel.

To take this journey I suggest taking the ‘exit’ marked Chapter 4.   Continuing to be directive, I suggest a slow reading of the entire chapter, then a walk or some similarly pleasant task, before savouring its delights again.   Last Sunday and this Sunday we get two good tasters of the chapter but it is worth going for all the courses it offers to the perceptive palate.

At the outset the chapter states very clearly what is needed in the tank for the active pilgrim: a good fill-up of the Holy Spirit! Jesus goes into the desert but tranquillity is not the reality; rather he finds himself in a mega personal crisis.  At the end of his sojourn we discover that, with great resilience of spirit, he finds relief and equilibrium.  Fortified, he hits the synagogue circuit and other public locations and is challenged to cope with the ebb and flow of fickle public opinion.

His reflections on some well-known scripture stories in the synagogue at Nazareth are perceived as a serious threat to the well-maintained status quo of his listeners. In summary, he proclaims that each person is special and important, not just one particular group, nation or race.  Even recently an Irish senator found it difficult to accept that all fully qualified taxi drivers are equally deserving of custom and not just those who appear ‘to be local’;  the senator, in fairness, quickly had a conversion experience as stated publicly in an apology.

Not for the last time did the crowd turn very nasty and hustle Jesus out of town and onto a cliff edge, but with deft action he slips away from them.

The courage to state that which is contrary to perceived wisdom is part of the job description for all of us who accept the call to be a follower of the nomadic and determined preacher and healer.   To publicly challenge some, not all, of the preaching and practises of civil authorities and also at times those of church authorities is very much needed today. The threat to be hustled ‘out of town’ is still very real in the 21st century.

But to be ‘on top of one’s game’ in living the Jesus dream one also has to listen to the call of the wild.  Near the end of the chapter we have yet another inspiring image of Jesus quietly leaving the house as soon as dawn breaks and making his way to a lonely place.  He goes to that place where he can be alone, a place where the sweat dries and the Spirit speaks.  But, the crowds soon get hold of his contact details…

Jim Owens – Jim is a Spiritan Associate and is a healthcare chaplain at St Vincent’s Hospital,
Fairview in Dublin. He and his wife live in Co. Meath.