True to the Mission and Its Message

January 28th, 2013 Posted in writing

When Jesus visited Nazareth, the place he grew up, he declared in its synagogue that he was God’s servant foretold in the book of Isaiah and that his life’s mission was to bring healing, freedom and reconciliation, just as had been promised in Isaiah’s prophecy.

But Isaiah also said that God would bring punishment and vengeance on Israel’s enemies, and Jesus left that out, an omission which his hearers would have noticed, apparently leading them to ask who Jesus thought he was, omitting part of a prophecy (especially the part that seemed to promise that their hated political subjugation under Rome might finally end).

But Jesus was not the kind of political and military messiah that people expected. He knew that his Father had given him a mission that wasn’t about vengeance, and he would be true to that mission even if it offended people. That attitude, scholars say, not only angered the people in Nazareth, it eventually led to his death in Jerusalem.

What’s the message for us? St. Francis told his companions to preach the gospel always, adding, “if necessary, use words.” Are our actions and words true to the mission and message of Jesus as he proclaimed it, or do we tailor them to what we and others want to hear?

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