First Reading: From the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians 4:13-18
13 We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, to make sure that you do not grieve for them, as others do who have no hope.
14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that in the same way God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
15 We can tell you this from the Lord’s own teaching, that we who are still alive for the Lord’s coming will not have any advantage over those who have fallen asleep.
16 At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise,
17 and only after that shall we who remain alive be taken up in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. This is the way we shall be with the Lord for ever.
18 With such thoughts as these, then, you should encourage one another.
Responsorial Psalm: From Psalms 96:1, 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13
1 Sing a new song to Yahweh! Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!
3 declare his glory among the nations, his marvels to every people!
4 Great is Yahweh, worthy of all praise, more awesome than any of the gods.
5 All the gods of the nations are idols! It was Yahweh who made the heavens;
11 Let the heavens rejoice and earth be glad! Let the sea thunder, and all it holds!
12 Let the countryside exult, and all that is in it, and all the trees of the forest cry out for joy,
13 at Yahweh’s approach, for he is coming, coming to judge the earth; he will judge the world with saving justice, and the nations with constancy.
Gospel Reading: From the Gospel Account of Saint Luke 4:16-30
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read,
17 and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
18 The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.
20 He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21 Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even while you are listening.’
22 And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips. They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?’
23 But he replied, ‘No doubt you will quote me the saying, “Physician, heal yourself,” and tell me, “We have heard all that happened in Capernaum, do the same here in your own country.” ‘
24 And he went on, ‘In truth I tell you, no prophet is ever accepted in his own country.
25 ‘There were many widows in Israel, I can assure you, in Elijah’s day, when heaven remained shut for three years and six months and a great famine raged throughout the land,
26 but Elijah was not sent to any one of these: he was sent to a widow at Zarephath, a town in Sidonia.
27 And in the prophet Elisha’s time there were many suffering from virulent skin-diseases in Israel, but none of these was cured — only Naaman the Syrian.’
28 When they heard this everyone in the synagogue was enraged.
29 They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him off the cliff,
30 but he passed straight through the crowd and walked away.
Theme: No Prophet is Acceptable in his own Country
How would you react if Jesus spoke this message from the pulpit of your church? It was customary for Jesus to go weekly to the synagogue to worship and on occasion to read the Scriptures and comment on them to the people. His hometown folks listened with rapt attention on this occasion because they had heard about the miracles he had performed in other towns. What sign would he do in his hometown? Jesus startled them with a seeming rebuke that no prophet or servant of God can receive honor among his own people. He then angered them when he complimented the Gentiles who seemed to have shown more faith in God than the “chosen ones” of Israel. They regarded Gentiles as “fuel for the fires of hell.” Jesus’ praise for “outsiders” caused them offense because they were blind-sighted to God’s mercy and plan of redemption for all nations.
The word “gospel” literally means “good news”. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free from the worst tyranny possible – the tyranny of slavery to sin and the fear of death, and the destruction of both body and soul. God’s power alone can save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit, from confusion and error, and from the fear of death and hopelessness. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for us today. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel?
“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Holy Spirit brings us grace, truth, life, and freedom. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your will”.