Jesus returned to His hometown Nazareth, went to the synagogue, as He was in the habit of doing. He read from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, where it was written,
“The spirit of the Lord is upon me; therefore He has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives,
Recovery of sight to the blind
And release to prisoners.
To announce a year of favor from the Lord.” (Lk. 4: 18-19)
Then He said further, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” He then delivered a beautiful homily and people “spoke favorably of Him”.
In many ways, most of us are like Jesus’ town mates. We like to read beautiful texts and postcards of God’s wonderful promises that “do not ask us to do anything, but just wait and receive”. In our excitement to share it with others, we even post it in our Facebook page. However, when called to action, we retreat and like to hide behind in our comfort zones. Whenever we are warned, when priests and ministers correct us, we hate them for that.
I remember when I was still a child, there was this politician who was sort of a bully. He was always doing some injustice to some ordinary people, and the parish priest would always caution him. Everytime the priest hears something bad that the politician did, he would always warn the politician. Until it reached a point that the politician got so angry and he hurled words at the priest. You know what, after a week, the politician died of a heart attack. Coincidence? I don’t know. But one thing is certain. The politician didn’t like correction from God’s priest. He flirted with angering God! And I was told there were strange things that happened during his funeral that made me think why it happened.
In His infinite love, God continuously sends help to correct us when we are wrong, to strengthen us in our weakness, and to affirm us when we are down.
We should be able to discern the messages God has sent us through our loved ones, friends and even the happenings around us.
However, for those who don’t listen to correction, Jesus has taught His disciples to treat them as “you would a Gentile or a tax collector”. Jesus assures His disciples that “whatever you bound on earth, shall be held bound in Heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be held loosed in Heaven” (Mt. 18: 15-20). These are strong words coming from our Lord, which others do not like to even talk about it. In His time, Jesus spoke with authority and everything that He said can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. This same can be said now, as He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:9). Responding to Jesus is important for our salvation. Else we’re just like the people mentioned earlier.
One of the beautiful paintings I’ve seen in childhood is the one wherein Jesus with the staff of a shepherd is shown knocking at the door. However, one can notice in the painting that there’s no doorknob. The explanation is that there is no knob as the homeowner is the one that can open the door. If he doesn’t, Jesus can’t enter it. Similarly, if we don’t open our hearts to God’s calling, He won’t force Himself on us. We are free to accept Him or not.
Fr. Armand, in his book Code of Champions says,
“If there is no destination, there is no journey to speak of. If there is no finish line, why run the race?
Purpose colors everything. For a champion, no experience is wasted. One single step may be insignificant when taken by itself, but considered as part of a long journey, it becomes necessarily valuable. The goal bestows value on the details of life, that is, the purpose shapes and constructs the entire structure of life.”
Are you ready to respond to God’s call? Will you open the door of your heart to Him?