Monday, February 1, 2010

The Constancy of Love (4th Sunday Ordinary Time)

This Sunday's Gospel invites us to reflect on one of the greatest mysteries of human relationships: rejection of those who do well. The Gospel text continue to relate to us the situation of Jesus in Nazareth, his hometown, parting from where we left off last Sunday. Jesus had read the reading from the prophet Isaiah announcing liberation and hope among the oppressed and an announcement of the year of the Lord. And he concluded with the words that the Gospel today begins with: "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

These words of Jesus provoked admiration from the listeners. But very soon, that attitude changed and gradually an atmosphere of rejection was in the air. Those who were listening ended up getting angry and even tried to kill him. It was a surprising story. How is it possible that those who received the announcement of salvation ended up turning against the messenger of the good news?

The experience of rejection

This short story in some way condenses the life of Jesus. His words provoked admiration but ended up digging his own pit of rejection. A rejection so great that will lead to death, death on a cross, the most humiliating of all forms of deaths of that time. It is the fate of Jesus and, there lies the mystery-the fate of many prophets. For sure we know persons in history who tried to build bridges, who promoted peace, exercised mercy but in the end experienced being rejected or marginalized.

The cross and rejection are part of the fabric of life and nothing good is achieved without passing through suffering, pain and sacrifice. It is a message difficult to understand especially in developed societies where one tends to avoid anything that involves suffering. But to get to Easter there is no other way to go through the bottomless pain of death.

The Kingdom is “Love”

What marks the life of Jesus, and many of his disciples over time and many men and women of good will, is the constancy in love. Jesus was not daunted in difficult moments, even before the fury of his countrymen. He trusted in the Father and continued to talk of mercy and the love of God; continue to be close to the poorest and reached out his hand to the marginalized. Rejection and difficulties never frightened him. Jesus have never read the text of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, that which we have just heard or read in second reading, but there is no doubt that Paul expressed perfectly in these words the depths of the spirit of Jesus and the essence of God.

It should be read and reread again and again. It is not a namby-pamby love what is proposed here. It is not a kind of teen romance, fragile and delicate. It is a love for men and women strong, free, responsible, and capable of taking charge of their destiny and directs it to where they believe they should go. These men and women are not patient, constant and merciful because of their weaknesses but rather because of their strength. No perdonan porque todo les dé lo mismo sino porque están llenos del amor y la misericordia de Dios. They do not forgive others because it is what they have to do, but rather they forgive others even if they are rejected because they are full of love and mercy of God. True love gives us a different way of living and relating with others. True love is the kingdom of God.

Only those who love much are able to remain constant at the time of rejection. They continue to love because they think that love is not just emotion, but an attitude, a lifestyle. They know that God is love. And that only love can make the world more human and more brotherly world. And they're willing to take the rejection, the cross and all the difficulties that are en route because it's worth it, just as Jesus did - until the end of the road.

Got another minute?