Once again we find ourselves in the synagogue of Nazareth, the village where Jesus grew up, where everyone knew him and his family.
During the Sabbath liturgy he read a prophecy on the Messiah by Isaiah and announced its fulfillment, making it clear that this word referred to him. The event puzzled the Nazarenes: on the one hand they all spoke well of him and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. On the other hand his fellow villagers knew him too well: "He is one like us," they say, "his claim can only be a presumption." Is not this Joseph's son? — as if to say: "What can a carpenter from Nazareth aspire to?"
Well-acquainted with this imperviousness which confirms the proverb, no prophet is acceptable in his own country, to the people in the synagogue Jesus addressed words that resonate like a provocation. He cited two miracles wrought by the great prophets Elijah and Elisha for people who were not Israelites in order to demonstrate that faith is sometimes stronger outside Israel. All the people got to their feet and drove him away; and they even tried to push him off a precipice. However, passing through the midst of the angry mob with supreme calmness he went away.
At this point it comes naturally to wonder: why ever did Jesus want to stir up this antagonism? At the outset the people admired him and he might have been able to obtain a certain consensus. But this is exactly the point: Jesus did not come to seek the agreement of men and women but rather — as he was to say to Pilate in the end — to bear witness to the truth. The true prophet does not obey others as he does God, and puts himself at the service of the truth, ready to pay in person. It is true that Jesus was a prophet of love, but love has a truth of its own. Indeed, love and truth are two names of the same reality, two names of God. Believing in God means giving up our own prejudices and accepting the actual face in which he revealed himself: Jesus of Nazareth. On this path Mary's attitude is enlightening. Who could be more closely acquainted than her with the humanity of Jesus? She cherished this mystery in her heart and was always and ever better able to accept it on the journey of faith, even to the night of the cross and the full brilliance of the Resurrection. May Mary also always help us to continue faithfully and joyfully on this journey.
Pope Benedict XVI. "Welcoming the Anointed One." (February 3, 2013).
From the Angelus Address, February 3, 2013, Saint Peter's Square.
Published with permission of Libreria Editrice Vaticana.
Pope Benedict XVI is the author of Jesus of Nazareth, Vol II, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol I, Caritas in Veritate: Charity in Truth, Saved in Hope: Spe Salvi, God Is Love: Deus Caritas Est,The End of Time?: The Provocation of Talking about God, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions, Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam, Salt of the Earth: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church at the End of the Millennium, God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time, In the Beginning: A Catholic Understanding of the Story of Creation and the Fall, The Spirit of the Liturgy, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, Introduction to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Introduction to Christianity, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today, Milestones: Memoirs 1927-1977, Behold the Pierced One, and God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life.Copyright © 2013 Libreria Editrice Vaticana
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