Read the daily quote from Pope Francis

Opening the Word: A Gospel for all


Simeon said it would come to this, that Jesus would be the cause of the rise and fall of many in Israel, “a sign that will be contradicted” (Lk 2:34). It was prophesied; at the beginning of John’s Gospel, the reader is warned up front of conflict and drama to come. “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (Jn 1:11). That Jesus would be rejected by most is fundamental to the story.

Luke wants his readers to get their heads around this strange feature of the story right from the beginning. Jesus’s public ministry begins in Capernaum, yet Luke wants his readers to begin in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. They praised him, praised his “gracious words” (Lk 4:22). But then come doubts, second-guessing, born of familiarity. This is Joseph’s son. Where could he have gotten all this?

But that’s not what sent Jesus’ listeners into a rage. Rather, what enraged Jesus’ listeners at Nazareth was that he told them the “glad tidings” he had just said were fulfilled in their hearing were also meant for gentiles — for non-Jews, for outsiders. Simeon had, of course, prophesied that Jesus would be “a light for revelation to the Gentiles,” but this was the first anyone in Nazareth had heard of it (Lk 2:32). And that’s what made them so angry, ready to kill — the idea that the Gospel welcomes not just them, but those over there, too.

How the Gospel included gentiles was perhaps the first genuine crisis for the Church. And in a sense, examining the rest of Christian history, one could argue it remains a crisis for the Church, perhaps as a matter of providence. And perhaps it remains a crisis for each of us personally.

Perhaps each of us is like that character, Ruby Turpin, in Flannery O’Connor’s wonderful short story “Revelation.” Mrs. Turpin looked down upon others, classifying them in her own utterly bigoted way. In her arrogant pride, she was grateful to Jesus for “making everything the way it is,” thankful for her place in the social order. It wasn’t until she experienced her own humiliation that she was granted a vision similar to Peter’s at Joppa (Acts 10). She sees a mystical heavenly procession, at the front of which are all those people she was in the habit of excluding and looking down on — poor people, people of color, the disabled and disturbed, all of them singing, “shouting and clapping and leaping.” Only near the end did she recognize people like herself, comported and singing on key. It was heaven, yet organized in exactly the opposite way she had assumed it would be. It was a heaven unlike she imagined, the truth of a Gospel bigger than she thought.

The last were first, the first were last (cf. Mt 20:16). It’s funny how clearly Jesus said this but that’s it’s still so hard for us to accept. The Gospel is for them, too, whoever “them” is for you. What we should ask ourselves, painful though such questions may be, is: Does it anger us that the Gospel includes our enemies and those we dislike? We must ask ourselves this honestly, because such anger will not do.

For that’s another chilling lesson we should take from this little story — that the anger born of our pride, born of our cherished distinctions and identities, is an anger eventually leveled at Christ himself, the Christ we say we love and admire. Just like those people in Nazareth admired him before they tried to kill him. Because their acceptance of the Gospel was too narrow.

January 30 – Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jer 1:4-5, 17-19
Ps 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17
1 Cor 12:31–13:13
Lk 4:21-30


This article comes to you from Our Sunday Visitor courtesy of your parish or diocese.


Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Opening the Word: A Gospel for all

Friday, January 28, 2022
By: Father Joshua J. Whitfield Simeon said it would come to this, that Jesus would be the cause of the rise and fall of many in Israel, “a... Read More

Institute launches national committee aiming to protect religious freedom

Wednesday, January 26, 2022
By: Dennis Sadowski (CNS) Prominent leaders of the religious freedom movement introduced an organization they say will work to defend religious... Read More

Here and around the world, Catholic politicians show a lack of moral leadership

Monday, January 24, 2022
By:  Msgr. Owen F. Campion Political events in Chile rarely make headlines in the United States, but late last year a vote in the... Read More

Opening the Word: An awe for Scripture

Friday, January 21, 2022
By: Catherine Cavadini On the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church marks the Sunday of the Word of God, instituted by Pope Francis in 2019.... Read More

Astronaut talks with Catholic school students while orbiting Earth

Wednesday, January 19, 2022
By: Jeffrey M. Barker SEATTLE (CNS)-Crisscrossing above the Seattle region at approximately 17,000 mph aboard the International Space Station, NASA... Read More

If you’ve wanted to become more familiar with key documents of the Church, start here

Monday, January 17, 2022
By: David Werning The Catholic Church has a treasure chest that may be unknown to some people or rarely opened by others. The treasures inside are... Read More

Opening the Word: We are all invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb

Friday, January 14, 2022
By: Father Joshua J. Whitfield Our readings still echo Epiphany. The wedding at Cana belongs, as we’ve seen, to the tria... Read More

Omicron response: Some Catholic colleges, universities online a few weeks

Wednesday, January 12, 2022
By: Carol Zimmermann WASHINGTON (CNS) — In response to the current spike in COVID-19 cases across the United States due to the omicron... Read More

Be proud of the Catholic American legacy

Monday, January 10, 2022
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Catholics may feel defensive these days. The current debate about legalized abortion, now under review by the U.S.... Read More

Opening the Word: On Jordan’s banks

Friday, January 7, 2022
By: Catherine Cavadini In this Sunday’s Gospel, Luke brings us to the edge of the Jordan River, where John is baptizing all those who wish to... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!