Why is hate or hatred so bad? And, what is Love? How is it so wondrous, as shown in Christ and His body? Here is a review of Luke 4 and its text of a bad turn of hatred in Nazareth one day. Paired with it in the Word is a review of 1st Corinthians 13 and its list of what Holy Love is and what Christ’ Love is all about, with a reminder, back to the gospel, that such Love was rebelled against in this world, for darkness abhors The Light. Luke 4 tells us the story of when The Light was turned fully on by Jesus: At His inaugural at Nazareth’s synagogue, via The Word. (Ps. 119:105 in Person!) That Light is still on. It’s a pervading, piercing, true, eternal Light. God sees all, and examines all by it—of what is true love and what is not love—of what will last forever, and of what is only temporal and weak.
I find it ironic, of this, God’s timing, that, when so much hate is going on, even dividing folks in these good but threatened United States, He gives us these Scriptures in His Church for Winter 2019. It’s a cold February day in America, and I’m talking of hearts, not polar bear temps and frozen places. We people need warming up to The Light of God.
There is love; there is hatred. When I think of the world’s hatred, and how Jesus took it upon Himself, I recall how Matthew 21 describes it. God took our hate and somehow turned it into His manner of absorbing it in His Christ, the Anointed One. Jesus put it on a Cross for all to see, too. Matthew 21 says: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes?” God’s Love still shines forth in Jesus, even despite the fact He was nailed to a Cross by you and me. Love won over hate, as done by God, and therefore, the faithful say: It is wonderful, loving Light to our eyes. Love wins.
Let’s match Matthew 21’s text of rejection turned reflection of love to Luke 4’s text. When the Lord Jesus was inaugurating His ministry, in His own home town, a great Light went forth into the world, a Holy Love revealed, as He proclaimed that God was here to care for His people, even for the poor, the captives, and that all who longed for peace, justice and freedom: Jubilee was here. God’s deliverer was here: Jesus of Nazareth. (Pause.) And He rolled up a scroll of Isaiah that prophesized of such a Day and Person, and Jesus said: That day once foretold is now, and it is come by Me. I have the Father Almighty’s Favor.
Last week or so, we had some people launch campaigns for the 2020 Presidency run, but in such stark contrast to Jesus’ inaugural speech innocence, for they had bravado, and pride, and lots of obvious sins and contradictions in their trails! Pity us who have such candidates in the wings to serve the nation, or present politicians like that. (Do we deserve them?!)
Jesus announced His ministry start: I have the Father Almighty’s Favor. That’s quite a statement! Jesus knew He had the favor of the Father because the Father said it to Him at His Baptism at the Jordan River, days before. “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Now, as he travels back to Mom in Nazareth, on a sabbath with her in their home synagogue, He tells everyone, via Scripture, that God has entered the Human Race. Love is come down from God and Heaven. In Me. Here and now.
He is still saying it: “God is with us. Do we realize it?” Later in Luke 17:21 Jesus reaffirms it: “The Kingdom of God is among you.” That statement of Jesus remains true and He is at work in us. Luke 4 gives His announcement: God has anointed Me, to bring glad tidings, good news to you, who are poor in spirit, humble and hoping and longing for the truth, for the Light, and for the life of God. It’s a new day for you! God has anointed Me, to get you set free, all those who are captive to something bad or unhealthy. God has anointed Me, Jesus, to make you new and beautiful.
Elect Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life forever! He’s a Person we can get our hearts into and follow! He is good for all His promises, too!
Yet what did the Nazorean people do that day on hearing such a word, in that synagogue where God revealed Himself in such Love and Presence on a Saturday service? They took him out of the town, in great rejection, and had intentions of throwing Him over the cliff. Hate was shown. But “He passed through the midst of them.” it says of the episode’s end. He shook the dust off His feet, and went on. Nazareth was no longer home for him, but a place of two-faced haters and hard hearts. They had failed the test. The Light had shone, Holy Love had been revealed, God’s Messiah announced—it was met with hatred by them.
Hate/Hatred is such an awful thing. What got those people so riled up? What gets people today so riled up? Some people seem to be so angry and selfish, that they seem as a torch of hate, ready to flare up, just when some conflict or difference arises as differing from their views or likes or opinions, and they burn and go into a frenzy, a madness, a curse.
Like it happened in Nazareth. Jesus saw the faces of hate versus His one of pure love.
What do people see in your face? Christ’ reflection? Darkness abhors the light. If you love and live like Jesus, then you’ll be opposite the fallen world. The pure love of God in a person, with some of His holiness, innocence, chastity, and obedient faith at work-–this can flare up some hatred back towards true believers in God. Be ready for it. And keep loving and believing, standing firm in The Faith. The darkness’ reaction or response to the Light of God in His own can be sudden, fierce, and strong. God knows this of man’s very-ugly side.
Extra background: Jesus grew up as a boy hearing the story of the patriarch Joseph, who was such a good boy, in Jacob’s favor, wearing the coat of many colors, but his brothers were jealous of him. Plotting to kill him, they chose to fake his death, and sell him off to slave traders, to get some money for it, and only in many years later, did they find how Joseph was still alive and had become Pharoah’s right hand man, to wind up becoming his family’s savior. Jesus had heard that story and in all His amazing innocence and faith, He would do even much better than Holy Joseph, but that story had inspired Him so. When love isn’t love, but it is jealousy, maybe in much disguise as love, only true love prevails, all else is found out. When love isn’t love, but it is an insistence, a pushiness, a forced action to get attention or care, but is disguised as something good, when it is not; only true love prevails, all else is found out. Innocent love and honest love and unconditional love—these are the actions that prevail—and we would be best living in them.
That story of Matthew 21, of Jesus, being the rejected One, who’d become the Cornerstone of God for a whole new re-recreation and salvation: It was the teaching after Jesus had taught the parable about the hateful people. The parable about landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower…leased it to tenants…went on a journey. But the tenants there seized his servants, beat them, stoned them, killed them. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
Jesus told the parable to some people who had hatred in their hearts—He would keep running into this phenomenon, of Him being The Light of God, and people opposing Him. That happens in the spiritual world in His people today. For your fully revealing Jesus’ love and truth in your life, it will be met with resistance. Jesus’ last Beatitude assured us it would; to not be surprised by it. The world has its love and its hatred; its lovers and haters.
The Lord Jesus sees this ugliness it in the hearts of people. His response was to deliver us from it, if we’d but cooperate with the salvation. The Divinity in Him would offer a pure Sacrifice to absorb the hatred. In the final say, the Blessed Son would be the ultimate Innocent Lamb to judge all wrongdoers and haters. What is Love in God? Love is Pure, Holy, Good, and Righteous. God is all of this, and more. We will stand before Him, and His Light, and the humble shall endure, but the arrogant and dark-in-spirit will perish, in their folly to oppose Truth and Goodness, even as it calls us out their real identity and shame. We all know our sins; there’s no pretense before Our God– He looks to save us.
Let’s go out of this homily in a look at the epistle. St. Paul wanted his new church in Corinth to be won over in love. The people were a bit over-inflated about themselves, saying they knew a thing or two about love. 1 Corinthians 13 is a bit of a scorecard of his assessment of them. He says: Ok. Love is patient and kind. I know some of you truly are so–in your faith. Love rejoices with the truth, with honesty in The Light. Ok. Again, some of you Corinthian folks got that right. Good. Then, Paul says what love is not, and I think he was considering some bad examples in his flock. A person full of love would not be known for their envy, their boastfulness or arrogance, their dishonor to others. Check. Check. Check. Negative grade-1,2,3. Love isn’t insistent, pushy, easily angered when it gets not its own way. Check. Check. Check. Paul challenges them to truly love, saying: Ok, Corinth city church, St. Paul’s parish! You’ve got some work to do.
How about in Resurrection parish—Burtonsville? (In its people.) How do we rate in love?
Let’s surely hope we are doing alright, and moving far from the direction of the synagogue folk in Nazareth, who wouldn’t have Him. As is some in America now, marginalizing Him and His people and morality and goodness. Let’s hope we can move in the direction of a being Christ’ holy dwelling place and His parish exulting in Love and Faith. Let’s be the 1st Corinthian 13 people that is all about holy loving. As the text concludes: Love protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres—Always. This is the Love that never fails—in Jesus. Jesus, help us into this Kingdom of love and into the example You gave to us. For.. You, Jesus… are very patient, kind, and forgiving. You, Jesus, take pleasure in the flourishing of truth. You stand up for the weak. You never give up. You care so much for others. You, Jesus, never wanted wealth you didn’t own rightfully, nor vainglory power, nor did you walk proudly– even though Your True identity is always Son of God. You haven’t forced yourself or Your will on us. Just Loved us. You don’t anger easily, and don’t remind us poor sinners of our wrongdoings all the time. You do not celebrate when others are suffering, but do all things in measure and care. You put up with a lot. If we could just live in Your Spirit!…
Jesus: You always trusted God. You had such big hope. You looked for the best, in a persevering, believing spirit. You didn’t fail us. You still offer us victory, with a love over hatred, over fear, or over loneliness, or disunity. You offer us a Love that conquers all!!
Fr. John Barry