Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 30, 2022

Sister Ana Cloughly, OSB reflects on the scripture readings: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 4:21-30

Why were you born? I wonder, why was I born.

Do you have a sense of your purpose?

We have all heard stories about musicians, authors and artists who say they were driven by an inward knowing that they were meant to create. It is why they were born.

Do you know why you were born, what you are born to do?

Looking to today’s scripture for some insight:

Jeremiah

“The word of the LORD came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”

Jesus

Today’s gospel is a continuation of last week, in which Jesus read the scroll containing the words of Isaiah, “He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down.”

This week we hear that the people of Nazareth were both amazed by his teaching and became indignant by it as well.

The people had known Jesus as a child. They knew him in ways others might not. I suspect those who became offended by Jesus were the more “learned” religious leaders. No one likes to be upstaged. Jewish boys around the age of twelve or thirteen are allowed to read from the scrolls. But only teachers were allowed to sit down and teach. Some scholars say this is where the indignation started.

Jesus claimed that the promises were being fulfilled. Perhaps this is what stoked the flames of indignation.

And finally, Jesus’ response to their offense, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place,” sent the people into fury trying to toss Jesus down over the brow of a hill.

Pride kept some of the townspeople from hearing the real message: God is making good on those ancient promises.

Now, we have the benefit of being on the other side of the Lord’s passion, death and most importantly, resurrection. We also have the help of the Holy Spirit.

We can choose to put our indignation to the side, listen and trust in the promise of God.

We can choose to put our fears aside and trust the word of God.

As we heard in St Paul’s First letter to the Corinthians last week, we are all members of the body of Christ.  So, Jesus’ mission to fulfill the promises of God are our mission, are why WE were born.

This week, St. Paul tells us that love is the key: “If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

We may know what we are born to do but forget the “why” of our existence. We were created by love, for love and to love.

Why was I born?

Why were you born?

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