Challenged to Follow Jesus

Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our January 28th newsletter

In this week’s Gospel, St Luke tells what happens when Jesus offered challenging words to the people of Nazareth about their relationships with other human beings. The people become so uncomfortable and “filled with rage” that they try to “hurl him off the cliff.” While Jesus’ teachings often bring us comfort, they should always challenge us. How do we react when the Gospel not only challenges but contradicts our ideas about ourselves or about others? What do our readings say to us today, on this first Sunday in February when we in the United States celebrate Black History Month?

In their recent pastoral against racism, Open Wide Our Hearts, The Enduring Call to Love, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops state that “Racism occurs because a person ignores the fundamental truth that, all humans …are equally made in the image of God. When this truth is ignored, the consequence is prejudice and fear of the other, and—all too often—hatred.” When we automatically dismiss any person or group of people, scapegoat any person or group, create boundaries between ourselves and any other human being, treat any person as if they are inferior to us, what do we say to God?

It does not matter how many prayers we “say,” how many religious services we “attend’; while he walked this earth Jesus did not teach us how to worship him, but Jesus taught us how to follow him. This is what made the people in Nazareth so angry. We cannot “rejoice with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:7) when we assume the worst about any person or when we act out of a sense of superiority or control over another. These readings impel us to question: Does prejudice, racism, or “othering” define our relationship with any other human being? If the Gospel does not challenge us to examine and reorder our relationships with each other, we are not listening.

The readings also assure us though that God is with us on every step of our journey, especially during those times when we find it challenging to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. “For I am with you to deliver you, says the LORD.” (Jer. 1:19) Jeremiah felt the presence of God when called to be a prophet to Israel. Saint Luke tells of when Jesus knew that same presence when he was rejected by his neighbors in Nazareth. (Lk. 4:30)

Jesus always took action to challenge the injustice of his time. The Bishop’s recent pastoral states “racism comes in the form of the sin of omission, when individuals, communities, and even churches remain silent and fail to act against racial injustice when it is encountered.” The call to speak out and take action has been the core to the mission and history of the Franciscan Action Network for the past 10 years.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on January 29, 2019 at 9:24 am  Leave a Comment  

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