Tuesday, February 23, 2010

physician, cure thyself...

[Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."

And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, "Isn't this the son of Joseph?" He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb, 'Physician, cure yourself,' and say, 'Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'" And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place."
Luke 4:16-24

This section of Luke has come up twice in the past 24 hours, completely at random. One of the times it came up was during lectio divina with my Ignatian spiritual exercises group. I placed myself in this scene, and thought about how excited i would be for Jesus, this hometown hero, this miracle worker, to come back to us. and how disappointed and angry and hurt i'd be to hear that his message, his healing, his grace wasn't for me. or for me alone. we weren't the only chosen people. we weren't the heirs to David's legacy.

i also thought a lot about home, specifically and conceptually. my sister just came to visit and it was a beautiful and confusing collision of two worlds. i think part of what was so challenging was wanting to think of myself as a changed person - not a prophet, maybe a prophet-lite. but, my sister knows me. she's known me my whole life. and so that's not how i appear to her. it's not how i appear to myself, either. i find myself unable to articulate what i do here, what i love here, and why i might want to stay. i think it's one of the joys and curses of family - they have such a longevity of knowledge of you and can see the places where you're the same, even when you think you've changed.

it's interesting to think about the context of this passage, specifically. Jesus has just been tempted in the desert - he's been fasting, he's faced temptation, and then, after probably performing some miracles and pouring out some grace, he finds himself back in his hometown, with his people. and instead of tripping down memory lane with them, he gives them the vision of his ministry. and then he tells them it's not just a vision for them. and they get so mad, they try to kill them. apparently, those Nazarites aren't really the ticker-tape-parade sort. Regardless, it shows the depth of challenge to what Jesus said - people were ready for him to breeze into town and fix things. instead, he tells them the vision and then says "other people need this first. it will happen. but not yet. and not here." that gives me a little solace - maybe i'm meant to do good things, biggish things, far away from the people who love me. or maybe that's just me twisting the Gospel so i don't feel too badly about not knowing where i'm supposed to be...

But, on this journey toward Lent, it's good to remember that Jesus' ministry starts out amongst people who know him. And the specific vision he presented enraged them so much that they tried to kill him. That's the Jesus I believe in - the one whose love is so great, whose vision is so challenging, and whose grace is so costly that many people try to kill him, and some even (temporarily) succeed. That's the Jesus whose Resurrection I long for. That's the Jesus I want to follow, even into my own hometown...


  1. so beautiful, and so relevant for me in my own musings and journeying; thanks for this, Cat.

  2. sometimes, when I leave a post in response to your blog, it doesn't show up. I don't remember what exactly I said here, but I do know that I said something! In any case, thanks for this post. IT is really beautiful and something that I feel I can relate too.