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February 1

FOCUS:  God’s grace can lead us through hardships to peace and a deeper faith.


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In our Gospel today, Jesus returns to Nazareth and teaches in the synagogue. But, instead of being hailed as a hometown hero, the locals “take offense at him.” Whether it be envy or refusal to believe in his new interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures, those who knew him as a child refused to see Jesus as anything more than a simple carpenter. How often do we get stuck in our own ideas of who someone is or what we think they should be based on our past interactions?

The problem Jesus recognized in today’s Gospel is at the heart of what holds us back from fully accepting the Good News of our Catholic Faith. The people of Nazareth refused to believe that Jesus could change. They viewed the world with a closed mind, unwilling to see Jesus from a new perspective. Didn’t the Pharisees have the same problem? In their case, they refused to accept that the promised “Messiah” didn’t fit into the “conquering hero” image they believed God promised Israel.  The people of Nazareth witnessed Jesus as a great teacher and had heard about the great healings and miracles He performed. But their eyes had not yet been opened by the facts of his Resurrection. Their hearts had not yet been filled with the Holy Spirit.

How does this apply to us? We may believe in the historical proof that Jesus was indeed the Messiah promised by God to Israel and the entire world. We may have been baptized as children of God and received the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t mean we have fully accepted the Gospel message. In our case, instead of believing in how Jesus changed, do we believe in our own ability to change? Have we accepted that Jesus is calling us to live differently? Have we embraced the call to be a different person than just the product of our environment and childhood upbringing?

The ”Good News” is that we too are being offered a new way of living. Jesus is teaching us, is performing miracles in our lives, and is calling us to live differently. Jesus is asking us to spread this Good News to others. Our “Catholic Faith” must be lived. Our acceptance of the new life Jesus offers us is not just an exercise of the mind. We must live our faith with our mind, heart, body and soul.

We receive and accept the Good News of our Catholic Faith by having an open mind. We must keep an open mind to the possibilities that Jesus offers us to change the way we live and act each day. Let’s open our hearts and minds to the new life Jesus offers us today.

Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection

Do you know and live in the joy and freedom of the Gospel message?

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