Sunday, January 30, 2022

Guarding Against Glitter

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19; Psalm 70 (71): 1-6, 15, 17; 1 Corinthians 12: 31-13: 13; Luke 4:21-30

Picture: cc Jagrap

My dear friends, can you complete this sentence? All that glitters… That’s right! All that glitters… is not gold. And we know what it means. It’s a warning to us about the danger of chasing after shiny things, because not all shiny things are truly valuable. For example, a scammer may show us something shiny… like a job, or a cash prize, or the promise of companionship… and tempt us to give up something valuable in exchange for it. But once we take the bait, we discover that we’ve sacrificed our gold for worthless glitter.

I mention this not just because scams have been so much in the news lately, but also because of our scriptures today. In the gospel, Jesus does something puzzling. At the start of the reading, we’re told that, by preaching in his hometown, the Lord won the approval of all. But instead of happily enjoying this popularity, Jesus provokes his listeners. He makes them so angry that they even try to kill him. Why does he do this?

Isn’t it because the Lord realises that the glitter of popular acclaim is not real gold? Isn’t it because he recognises that their approval of him is born not of a true appreciation for what he is saying, or of who he claims to be, but rather of chauvinism? They are drawn to him simply because they want to claim him as their own. This is Joseph’s son, surely? And perhaps Jesus realises that giving in to their desires would mean compromising his own God-given mission, to bear witness to the truth of God’s love for all people, regardless of family or ethnic or national origin. To be seduced by the shine of popular acclaim, would mean sacrificing the solid gold of his own true identity and mission.

So, instead of encouraging their praise of him, the Lord bravely uncovers their scam, even at great risk to himself. Like Jeremiah before him, Jesus confronts the people with the truth of their prejudice. Not just for his own sake, but also to show them the reality of their hypocrisy, and to offer them the possibility of being set free from their sin.

By acting in this way, Jesus demonstrates in the flesh, what the second reading describes so beautifully in the abstract. Love takes no pleasure in other people’s sins but delights in the truth… Refusing to take pleasure in popularity, the Lord chooses to delight instead in the truth of who he is, and what he is sent to do. And he is able to make this difficult choice, because, by doing so, he is abiding in the Father’s love. Which gives him the strength he needs to face every eventuality, even a painful and shameful death on a cross.

My dear friends, actually, in our world today, there are far more dangerous scams than those that merely rob us of our money. What about those that tempt us with the glitter of popularity, or success, or comfort, only to take from us the gold of our health of body, or peace of mind, or closeness of relationship with family and friends, with nature and God?

Sisters and brothers, what must we do to keep helping one another guard against the glitter that is not gold today?

No comments:

Post a Comment