Liturgical Comment

23rd January

The Gospel for this Sunday finds us in the city of Nazareth, place of wonder and miracle. It is still said of Nazareth today ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth’, and some pilgrims do not visit it because they feel there is nothing to see there. But there is everything to feel there, everything to remember. Jesus returned to Nazareth where He had grown up. The consequence of His sign in the synagogue was anger from its people and the attempt to kill Him. The brow of the hill chosen for this action is today called ‘The Hill of the Fright’ for it evoked intense fear in the Mother of Our Lord that the city turned against its Son with such vehemence and so swiftly. This return to Nazareth is the context for the underlying theme of this Sunday’s readings, which is the Word of God, and the contemplation of that Word. The Aramaic for ‘word’, transliterated ‘miltha‘ carries weight for it expresses what is impossible to render properly in English, but means something like ‘the effulgence of light, the mystery, the emanation of reality…’ To contemplate such divine ‘otherness’ is a gift, a grace, and is more about a still receptivity with the text, than anything we could ‘do’. In Nazareth, Our Lord ‘took the scroll’ to read, then handed it back, gave it, returned it, for He was the fulfillment, He was the Living Scroll, the Prophecy embodied, the Word Incarnate. To read Him who is the Word means essentially to be read by Him, to be read in His Presence and with love.

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