Daily Reflection
September 1st, 2008

Daniel Patrick O'Reilly

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Today’s scripture readings are about faith, trust and humility and the joy and hope they can produce. In Corinthians, Paul proclaims that his preaching comes from the spirit, not from his own wisdom. So that your faith might rest not on human wisdom, but on the power of God. The psalmist proclaims, “Lord, I love your commands.” It is my meditation all the day. In Luke, Jesus returns to Nazareth to preach. At first the people are amazed. Then they begin to question, “.... isn’t this Joseph’s son?” And Jesus tells them that his message is not just for them, but for others, too. They switch from amazed to enraged and try to kill Jesus.

On first reading, I was wagging my finger at those no good people of Nazareth. At first they get it and are amazed at Jesus. Then, Jesus says that they aren’t the only people he is preaching to and maybe they aren’t such perfect little angels. They turn from an admiring throng to angry mob and assault the Son of God. What the heck is wrong with these people? However, on second reading, I realized how like the people of Nazareth I am and Jesus was talking to me.

Initially, the people of Nazareth started out with faith, trust and humility. They listened patiently to what Jesus had to say and were rewarded with hope, wonder and joy. And then comes the flip side. Humility goes out the window and the people begin to mumble. This guy is the carpenter’s son, a nobody. Jesus, if you are going to preach to us, you had better have some credentials, proof and you had better produce them on our time table. And then Jesus says the unthinkable. God loves people you think are scum. What?!? Off the cliff with him! Isn’t it funny. Even with the initial rewards of faith and trust, people abandon those for demands of immediate proof. Certainty or nothing. Recipes for cynicism and unhappiness. Strange. Even stranger that I recognize this and yet I know it happens to me.

A few weeks ago we were camping on a night that was perfect for star gazing. We threw out blankets and laid on the ground to look at the stars. The sky was incredible. Breath taking. How could anyone look up and not see God? After about five minutes, my youngest lost patience and got up. At that moment a brilliant shooting star streaked across the sky. Everyone gasped and pointed. Of course Seth missed it. He laid back down and asked when the next one would come. He became angry when I tried to explain another one might not come along for a long time. I started to get angry. From marveling at God’s creation to shouting at my child. How does that happen? Maybe I have an ancestor from Nazareth.

Our tendency is to hurry through life, preoccupied with things that really don’t matter. Each moment is a gift from God. And faith, trust and humility are things we have to work at in order to appreciate and embrace God’s gifts. Paul’s message of humility really resonated within me. I often feel completely inadequate when I start to write a reflection. So, I feel my reflections are proof positive of the power of the Holy Spirit. It is humbling and encouraging at the same time when I read responses that indicate something I have written has connected with someone else. I often wipe away tears when I realize something I have written encouraged someone or caused them to evaluate their relationship with God.

My prayer today is that we each would pause and appreciate the gifts from God. Especially the gift of Christ.

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