Fear not, be bold, for God is with us!

by Paul Yeung
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jeremiah 1:4-5,17-19

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

Luke 4:21-30

Luke puts this episode at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry for a reason. The remarkable contrast between the initial acceptance and admiration and the subsequent rejection of Jesus is signature of His whole ministry.

From the initial admiration to the dubious attitude because of Jesus’ family background to the final murderous attempt, this gospel passage reminds us similar incident will continue to repeat itself to those who spread the Good News, especially to Christ’s prophetic witnesses. This has happened to the prophets like Elijah and Elisha. Yet, we should not be scared and threatened by all these rejections and persecutions because God is with us and will protect us. “They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.” (Jeremiah 1:19)

Our world badly needs prophetic voices, which is the role of every Christian. But most of us are like Jeremiah, we have turned God down because of our fears of being too young and ineloquent (cf. Jeremiah 1:7, 14), together with many other excuses. We can find comfort in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that we have a powerful gift and weapon on our side, that is Love — love of Christ and His beloved people. It can expel all fears within us. Indeed, God will prevail and the final triumph belongs to Christ and those who stand firm for Him and persevere to the end.

This gospel passage also challenges us to not be blinded by our own pride. God works and speaks to us in ways that challenge our status quo and our limited mindset. We should not underestimate God’s love and mercy by our tunnel vision. He is generous to all, Jews and Gentiles. Our journey to become a true follower of Christ should begin with a humble, open, and generous heart.