There is an old adage that says: “If you don’t like the message, kill the messenger.” That seems like a ridiculous thing to do, but it has happened time and time again through history. Some of us can remember April 4th 1968. On that day in Memphis Tennessee, Martin Luther King Jr was shot to death. He was the unofficial spokesperson for racial equality in the United States. He kept telling the American Nation that there could never be peace until all its citizens were given equal rights. Many people did not like that message. And so one of them killed the messenger.
The same thing nearly happened in Today’s Gospel reading. On this occasion, the messenger was Jesus. He was teaching in the synagogue of his home town. At first, the people were deeply touched and favourably impressed by his message. Luke said: “They marveled at the appealing discourse which came from his lips .” But the happy atmosphere did not last long. It fell apart when Jesus told them something they did not want to hear.
We guess that in the first part he reminded them of God’s love and care for the nation of Israel. And they, of course, loved that, because Israel was their nation. It felt good to be reminded that they were God’s chosen people and that his gracious hand had been upon them across the centuries.
But, Jesus did not end his message there. He went on to remind them that God’s loving care was not, and never had been, their exclusive right. Using two examples from the Book of Kings, the first a foreign widow in Zaraphath and then a foreign Leper called Naaman. Both were favoured by God over Israelites. He was saying that God does not have favourites.
This really enraged them and they tried to kill him. What about us, are there any group of people we think are beneath us? Any group that we treat less equally than others, Jesus’s message means that all are equal and equally loved by God.