Live with the Expectations of Our God

01-30-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

I have said many times, to many people that I discovered in life that "the obvious is not always the obvious." This applies especially when I am searching for my car keys or my smart phone. I can look and look and never see either one of these two things. They can be right in front of me. The Gospel passage this weekend is about what we see or expect to see and what we really see. We also are expected to discern what this all means for us as people of faith. Our culture sees and expects the famous or the super-rich to be wonderful and thus glorifies them. Sadly, sometimes someone is famous simply by being famous; they have not accomplished anything significant or been outstanding in charity or courage. Often the super-rich are extolled for their generosity, but when you learn how they made their money by paying people less than a true fair wage or not ensuring their workers had good working conditions, their wealth is tainted and their charity is really from the back of the poor and underpaid. I guess I agree with the quote that "You should never really meet your heroes." They can be disappointing in real life. This disappointment is not obvious until it is obvious.

It is simply in life our expectations and disappointments go hand in hand. What is difficult at times is to realize what our expectations actually should be. Too often in life our expectations are too high or too low. In some ways the recent phenomenon of "reality TV" has shaped people's expectations. Reality TV is not real life, but in fact it causes people to alter their way of life and make this artificial reality become real. The home improvement shows, the real estate shows and also the shows about social behavior, love and relationships have had profound influence over people in what they expect and or demand from others than from ourselves. Reality TV does not seem to focus on expectations of one's own behavior or moral code, just others. We seem to be a culture that al-ways wants more from others than from ourselves. As we hear today's gospel passage about the people in the hometown of Jesus, we should not be surprised that they expected so much from Him, and not from themselves. They were unable to see or expect that Jesus was actually the bearer of their salvation. They expected and wanted something different and unfortunately far less.

Do you remember that last week in the Gospel passage that Jesus stood up in his hometown synagogue and read the prophecy of Isaiah, which promised freedom from oppression and announced a time of salvation for one and all? We start this week's Gospel passage with the last sentence of last week's gospel. It is: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." We may not realize it but according to the Gospel of Luke this is the third time Jesus has been back home to visit and nothing extraordinary has occurred. There has been no great miracle or healing at the hands of Jesus. As a result, the people now expect only to see the son of Joseph when He visits. Jesus understands this and responds with how the great prophets Elijah and Elisha were also rejected by their own people for healing the outsider and not their own. Bear in mind that Luke narrates this particular story to remind his very first readers that God's saving power includes Israel, but not Israel alone. Luke is making clear that salvation has come this day to the whole world. Sadly, the quiet little Town of Nazareth did not expect this to happen through Jesus. Because of their expectations and what they saw in Jesus, they missed the great message of salvation for one and all. This is quite a miss.

It is quite sad that the end result of the visit and encounter with Jesus is that the people expel Jesus from their midst. Yet Jesus draws himself up and goes through their midst and continues on His mission to be the bearer of salvation.

As believers, we come to realize as we live our faith that others may not see or understand who we are and what our faith means to us. The best we can do is to continue on our Mission. We do not have to judge or condemn, but pass nicely though the midst of others as Jesus did and continue to share "the Good News". We must live with the expectations not of other people, but of our God. Fr. Brian