Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time – Year C
January 30, 2022 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Jeremiah 1:4-5;17-19 | Psalm 71:1-6;15-17
I Corinthians 12:31-13:13 | Luke 4:21-30
+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Was Jesus a social activist? When He speaks about Elijah during today’s Gospel from Luke and states how “no prophet is accepted in his own native place,” and how aiding the social outcasts, the poor and the marginalized, the people hearing this were ready to take action and throw him off the cliff.
Are you a social activist who speaks out against injustice and the mistreatment of others, especially the poor and the social outcasts who are discriminated against due to race, sexual orientation, gender, or physical capabilities? Jesus certainly was a social activist as was one of my favorite role models: Dorothy Day.
Dorothy was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1897 to parents who were nominal Christians. As a young child, she showed a definite religious streak by reading the Bible frequently. She convinced her parents to let her join the choir at an Episcopal church. After graduating from college, she began work as a journalist and in 1917 she was arrested for picketing the White House on behalf of women’s suffrage and was sentenced to thirty days in jail.
In 1933, Dorothy and Peter Maurin started the Catholic Worker movement. Their publication, priced at one cent, was an unapologetic example of advocacy journalism. It provided coverage of strikes, reports on working conditions, especially for women and African American workers, and it explained papal teaching on social issues. It also reported on men of God who were working not only for their spiritual but also for their material welfare. The paper’s main competitor was the Communist Daily Worker.
But Dorothy opposed its atheism, its “class hatred” and violent revolution, and also its opposition to private property. The first issue of the Catholic Worker asked, “Is it not possible to be radical and not atheist?”
The movement quickly spread to other cities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
In the 1940s, Day affiliated with the Benedictines as an oblate of St. Precopius Abby. In the 1960s, Day hoped that the Second Vatican Council would endorse nonviolence as a fundamental tenet of Catholic life and denounce nuclear arms.
She was elated when Abbie Hoffman told her she was the original hippie, accepting it as a tribute to her detachment from materialism.
In 1971, Day was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award alongside Saint Teresa, (who at that time was Mother Teresa).
Dorothy died of a heart attack in 1980 and is interned appropriately at the Cemetery of the Resurrection in New York City.
Today’s first reading from Jeremiah is a call to action for all, especially the social activists like Jesus and Dorothy Day, to bring the Good News to all people of the world. God tells them, “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you.”
Our second reading from Corinthians contains one of the most famous statements about love. It was printed on a plaque and given to me as a wedding gift by my dear friend and former schoolteacher, Dorothy Engle. It reads:
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
It does not seek its own interests,
It is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
It does not rejoice over wrongdoing,
But rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
Hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Jesus subtly tells the people of Nazareth how to love each other in today’s gospel. It involves two things: one is that we lay aside status, rank, and privilege and take the form of a servant. The second part of the equation is to offer good deeds and helpfulness to all in need. If we study this carefully, we can watch Jesus, our Lord and Savior do this. By following Jesus’ example, we will live in the love that we find in Jesus.
If you research the Gospel of John, you will see a pattern to follow as Jesus describes how a bond with Him gives us the power to love. Remember, Jesus said the foundation of His love was His relationship with God, the Father. And we love each other by abiding in the love of Jesus, the Son, which is the love of the Father.
Our faith in God sustains us in spite of any obstacles we encounter. Hope motivates us to remain focused, but it is love, the most important virtue, that is the foundation of God’s mission.
Last Sunday, Fr. David spoke about Jesus reading the words of Isaiah, the prophet, and Jesus announced that this “Scripture is now fulfilled.” This Sunday, we learn that although the people of Nazareth were quite impressed by Jesus’ words, they were incredulous that such words could come from someone they regarded as merely “Joseph’s son.”
And Jesus challenged and provoked the people of Nazareth by giving them examples in which Israel rejected the prophets. Luke explains that the reason the Good News of Jesus was rejected by His Jewish contemporaries and the people of Nazareth was due to Jesus speaking about God’s grace ascending upon the poor and needy, not the rich and powerful, as they had hoped. This infuriated them so much that they were ready to throw Jesus off a cliff!
Jesus spoke about how His ministry would include the stranger and the outsider. His message was confrontational and hard to accept for many.
Jesus’ vision for humanity is one that many reject as it challenges the present situation of the world. To Jesus, God’s Kingdom will bring an end to violence, injustice, poverty, and domination. Those who will benefit the most are the poor and the marginalized—social outcasts, women and children, the poor, the disabled.
We are all called to fulfill God’s will of equality, humility, servanthood, compassion, forgiveness, nonviolence, and sharing.
So let’s follow the psalmist who proclaimed:
My lips will tell of your justice and of your help day by day. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and I will proclaim your wonders.