Daily Homily: Physician, Heal Yourself

September 1st, Monday of Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time, Year Two

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1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Psalm 119:97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102
Luke 4:16-30

During the weekdays of the next thirteen weeks of Ordinary Time, we will read from the Gospel of Luke. We begin with Jesus’ return to Nazareth, an event that takes place after his Baptism in the Jordan, his forty days in the wilderness, and his first weeks of ministry in Galilee. Jesus, Luke writes, returned to Galilee «in the power of the Spirit» and taught in the synagogues of Galilee.

The welcome that Jesus received in all Galilee is in stark contrast to the rejection he faces in his hometown of Nazareth. At first the people of Jesus’ hometown spoke well of him and were amazed at his words. When Jesus speaks about the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in his person, the people are happy and pleased. Jesus’ message is a message of hope and glad tidings. It is a message about the Messiah, God’s Anointed one. Those held captive and those who are oppressed will be freed; those who are blind will see.

However, when Jesus turns his attention to their desire for a miracle to prove that he is God’s Anointed one, the people begin to doubt. They don’t understand how it is that the humble son of a carpenter now preaches and teaches with authority and wisdom. They don’t see how the «son of Joseph» can now claim to be the Messiah.

Jesus reads the thoughts of their hearts and quotes a popular proverb to them: «Physician, heal yourself». A physician heals others and is told in the proverb to heal himself. In this context, the proverb means «do for yourself – and, more importantly, for us (your kinsmen) – the miracles you have done for others».

Throughout his public ministry, Jesus does mighty deeds and signs and works many miracles. Most of these follow upon faith in him as Messiah and Son of God. The people of Nazareth do not respond to Jesus with faith, but with doubt and skepticism. What is more, they reject him, just as Israel rejected Elijah and Elisha. The two prophets were not accepted in their own native place and the miracles they accomplished were done for two non-Israelites: the widow of Sidon and Naaman the Syrian.

Miracles, then, will not be done for Nazareth, just like miracles were not done for Israel in the time of Elijah and Elisha. This fills the people with fury and they drive Jesus to the edge of the hill on which Nazareth is built. But Jesus passes through the crowd without difficulty and leaves his hometown to continue his ministry in Capernaum.

Today’s Liturgy manifests how Jesus and Paul proclaim the mystery of God in different ways. Jesus is the Son of God and his entire life is a revelation of God. Paul is an Apostle, a servant of Jesus Christ, and proclaims the mystery of God to the Gentiles. Paul does not proclaim human wisdom, but divine wisdom. He proclaims Christ crucified.

The faith that Jesus asks from the people of Nazareth and the faith that Paul asks from the Church in Corinth do not rest on human wisdom, but on the power of God. Paul demonstrated his message of salvation, not by convincing them with eloquent words of human wisdom, but with the Spirit and power of God. Like the people of Nazareth, Capernaum and Corinth, we too are challenged to believe in Jesus more deeply each day. Our prayer is simply: «I believe Lord, help my unbelief» (Mark 9:24).

Readers may contact Fr Jason Mitchell at mitchelljason2011@gmail.com.

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Jason Mitchell

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