There is a very essential link between faith and love, as we hear about in the second reading today; “There are three things that last: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.”
The Gospel goes on to illustrate this for us, through the reaction of the people in Jesus’ hometown to His words.
There is no doubt that Jesus was a prophet, sharing the Good News of the kingdom. However the people’s reactions to his words, at first favourable and gracious, turned into doubt and hostility quite suddenly.
What was the issue? For one thing, they saw him as just the son of Joseph. For another thing, they felt that if Jesus had anything to offer then surely they, the people of his own hometown, should be the first to benefit from it. Along with not showing any real faith in Jesus it was this demand, or right that they felt, that began to harden their hearts.
However, Jesus illustrated to them, through the stories of the prophets Elijah and Elisha, that there is no room I the kingdom of God for privilege. It doesn’t matter who you are but, rather, whether or not you have faith. God’s love begins wherever there is need and the faith to receive it.
But why, in the midst of this profound message, did Jesus’ own countrymen turn on him? Especially as he spoke to them in love, and as they acknowledged his words as ‘gracious’?
Firstly, because of what he said. For they saw him offering to Gentiles, to sinners, what they, the people of God, felt was due to them.
And secondly, and the deeper reason, because he showed the ugly things that lay hidden, in them. Their selfishness and lack of faith were exposed. To paint a picture; it’s like a stagnant pond, it looks clear at first, but upon stirring it up or treading through it you get all of the mud rising to the surface.
Regrettably, religion sometimes brings out the worst in people. It makes them narrow-minded, small-hearted, and intolerant. We see an ugly example of this in the citizens of Nazareth, being pushed to the point of utter hate. The sad truth is that this kind of thing still happens today.
But, religion can also bring out the best in people. It makes them more tolerant and loving. Religion, practiced in truth, frees the heart and mind and fosters harmony with others. Religion is beautiful when it is like this. This is what Christ came for, as we are reminded today. He comes to lead us closer to our brothers and sisters, and closer to God and His kingdom.
If you were to ponder something today I leave you with this: What does religion bring out in you? Are you a stagnant pond or a bubbling spring?
Remember: “Faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”
Readings for reflection:
1 Corinthians 12.31-13.13
- Main idea for reflection taken from “New Sunday & Holy Day Liturgies: Year C” by Flor McCarthy