1. Last week we heard of the great signs performed by Jesus in response to the faith of the woman with the hemorrhage and the synagogue official Jairus. Because they believed in Jesus and put their trust in Him, they received a great healing, as well as peace in their souls. Maybe they only sought out Jesus because they had no where else to turn, but still they relied on Him even in the face of great difficulty.
2. This week, however, the theme appears to be the lack of faith. The townspeople of Nazareth are so sure that they know everything about Jesus that they cannot put their trust in Him. They even took offense at Him because of His outstanding teaching and the reports of the miracles and signs wrought by His hands.
3. Maybe they just could not get over their own opinions and see the evidence before their eyes. When I was a music student, one of the instructors cautioned us against getting a job in our home town, at least until we had become well established. He said that people’s memory of your childhood could prevent them from listening to your words of wisdom. Maybe it was like that. In any event, the lack of faith disturbed Jesus and He eventually moved His home to Capernaum.
4. Their failure to believe in Jesus made it impossible for Him to do any mighty signs for them. He was only able to accomplish a few healings. But not the kinds of healings that really signify Jesus’ Divinity and the salvation that is imminent. In fact, their disbelief made it impossible for them to hear the Good News of Salvation. Their lack of faith blinded them from being witnesses to the fulfillment of the promises of God that they themselves had longed to see accomplished.
5. In the first reading, we hear of the call of Ezekiel by God to be a prophet. At the time, the people were not obeying the commandments, they were not being faithful to God. And so the Lord sent Ezekiel into their midst. Some heard the call to holiness, others did not. But it was not to succeed that the Lord called Ezekiel, it was to faithfulness.
6. It seems a little strange that the All Powerful God who holds all of creation in being would send prophets who would fail. You might think that God could make sure that they did not. And when He sent His only begotten Son, you’d think that God would make sure that He was a success also. At least His hometown should have been behind Him. But they were not. It is really not a lack of power on the part of God. The failure of people to believe is in their exercise of free will. God has given us this gift of freedom and He will not take it back. I have heard people say that God made a mistake giving human beings free will. But He is God and I am not going to second guess Him. I will just have to trust that His way is the best way.
7. Even though the theme might appear to be lack of faith, in truth, faithfulness is the most important quality emphasized by today’s readings. For although Ezekiel may or may not have been successful, as the world counts success, he was faithful to his calling as a prophet. And Jesus did not give up when those whom He loved rejected Him, whether in His hometown or when He hung upon the cross. Jesus was faithful to God the Father. And He is faithful to us also.
8. The call to fidelity is not the call to great power, or to resounding success in this world. The call to fidelity is just that- the call to be faithful to God no matter what. There will be those who like us because of it. There will be others who do not like us. They might listen, or maybe they won’t.
9. The battle with faithfulness and trust may even be waged inside of ourselves more than outside. Consider Saint Paul and his nameless temptation. This great saint struggled mightily within himself to be faithful. And he had to learn that his own weakness could lead him to experience the true power of God. God is calling each of us. But are we going to be faithful?