Pope Francis on February 3, 2019, explained the “rest of the story” – and it had a rocky start.
His remarks came before praying the noonday Angelus with the large crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square. The gospel for the day from the fourth chapter of Luke continues the story from last week when Jesus read from the scroll in the temple and proclaimed the prophecy of Isaiah fulfilled. This week Luke provides the reaction of the people.
“Today’s Gospel (Cf. Luke 4:21-30) is the continuation of that story and it shows us the amazement of His fellow citizens on seeing that one of their country — ‘Joseph’s son’ (v. 22) –, pretends to be the Christ, the one sent by the Father,” the Holy Father explained. “With His ability to penetrate minds and hearts, Jesus understands immediately what His countrymen think.”
They can’t accept that the local man — someone like them — could be the promised one. To them, it is a “strange claim.” But their plan doesn’t correspond to God’s Plan.
“God wants faith; they want miracles, signs; God wants to save all, and they want a Messiah for their own advantage,” Francis explained. “In the face of this invitation to open their hearts to the gratuitousness and universality of salvation, the citizens of Nazareth rebel, and, in fact, assume an aggressive attitude.”
Thus, Christ’s public ministry begins in rejection including a threat of death. But as the Pope explained, Jesus knew he would face a high price: “toil, rejection, persecution, and defeat.” But He is not discouraged and moves ahead with his mission.
“Today also, the world is in need of seeing prophets in the Lord’s disciples, namely, courageous and persevering persons in responding to the Christian vocation,” Francis concluded. “Persons that follow the ‘thrust’ of the Holy Spirit, who sends them to proclaim hope and salvation to the poor and the excluded; persons that follow the logic of faith and not of utopianism; persons dedicated to the service of all, without privileges or exclusions. In a few words, persons that open themselves to accept in themselves the will of God and who commit themselves to witness it faithfully to others.”