4th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Scripture Readings
Food For Thought
*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love
Meditation Reflection: Luke 4:21-30
Most of us have shared something of Christ’s unfortunate experience in this passage. All too often so-called friends or groups of admirers show their fickle nature by turning on us at the first instance we upset them, let them down, don’t meet all their expectations, or they simply become distracted by something else. The home-town crowd listening to Jesus turned from amazement at His gracious words to anger impelling them to hurl Him down a cliff in what seems like a moment.
The daily Gospel readings from this week shed some useful light on this situation that can help sooth our disillusionment. Jesus responded to both praise and rejection with the same calm demeanor. He knows human nature and refrains from getting worked up about the opinion of the masses. His mission is to do the will of the Father not to poll focus groups.
Moreover, Jesus teaches that all any of us can do is the will of the Father, the results are in God’s hands not our own. This works both ways – when we seemingly do great works and when we seemingly fail. In Thursday’s Gospel reading from Mark 4:1-20 Jesus told the parable of the Sower and the Seed. As a teacher and mother this is one of my favorite passages. Jesus, and His servants, have the responsibility to sow the seeds of the Gospel wherever God sends them. How those seeds grow depends on the soil, or the disposition, of the receiver. Jesus’ words quite often fell on hearts that were hardened toward Him or too distracted by greed or anxiety. Why should we be surprised if we experience the same thing? Sometimes Jesus’ words fell on generous hearts and the Holy Spirit was able to work wonders through His followers. Again, can we really take all the credit when our work bears rich fruit? Some of the credit belongs to the person of faith willing to “hear the word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:28). Thus, Jesus places higher honor on two foreigners over God’s own children the Israelites because they were willing to do something in response to God’s word. Finally, credit ultimately belongs to God. In Friday’s Gospel from Mark 4:26-32 Jesus reflected on how a farmer plants seeds and harvests the crops but the entire process of growth in between should be attributed to the mystery of God’s work in nature.
This Gospel should give us peace that God is in control. He opens people’s ears to hear and eyes to see if He chooses. He decides what persecutions He will or won’t allow toward His servants. In this Gospel Jesus calmly and effortlessly passed through the angry crowd, demonstrating God’s total control over the situation. During His Passion however, God permitted His Son to be taken by the angry crowd in the Garden of Gethsemane and eventually crucified. Yet, by the power of God Jesus also rose from the dead three days later.
Disciples of Christ can take comfort in Jesus’ words He so often conveyed: “Peace be with you” and “Be not afraid”. We can let go and let God because our only task is to do the will of the Father and let Him bring our work to fruition. We have the joy of being His instrument, but the music played through us belongs to Him.
+ Have you ever had an experience like Christ’s where a friend or an acquaintance turned on you? What did it teach you about relying on the opinion of others?
+ How much do you worry about what other people think of you?
+ Do you trust your children to God, or do you put all the pressure for their wellbeing on yourself?
+ In John 15:1-5 Jesus insisted that our fruitfulness depends upon our connection to Him.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine dresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
+ How often do you begin your work with prayer?
+ Do you pray for God to guide little decisions and everyday tasks in addition to the larger ones?
+ How has bringing things to prayer enrichened your experience or the outcome?
+ Whatever your work may be, take time in prayer to surrender it to Christ each day. Ask for Him to guide the process as well as the outcome.
+ Choose a time in the middle of your day to connect with Christ. Decide on when, where, and how – even if it’s as simple as five minutes of silent prayer or reading Scripture at your desk during lunch.
For some practical examples of how you can practice these in your everyday life, read the full reflection in Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love ebook or paperback
Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!
© 2021 Angela M Jendro