4th Sunday: Luke 4: 21-30

In today’s second reading, we heard St. Paul’s hymn of love and his message is very clear to us, “To love is to light the flame of life in another person. The fire of love that we are called to light in people’s lives is the divine creative energy that gives them new life, new hope, new purpose, and new inspiration and courage to believe and to live again.”

Let me share with you a story about St. Mother Teresa and her sisters visiting a house in Calcutta, where a very poor man was living by himself and had no family. When the sisters entered his house, they saw that it was in a terrible mess and filled with dust. This man was tired of living and was simply waiting for death. The sisters cleaned his house. In the process of cleaning the house, they saw a very old lamp and asked him if they could clean the lamp and light it.

The man refused, saying, “For whom am I going to light the lamp; there is no light anymore in my life.” Mother Teresa told him that if he let them clean the lamp and light it, she would make sure that the sisters visited him regularly to share the love of God with him. The man agreed, and they cleaned the lamp and lit it and prayed, and had a meal with him. A couple of years later, Mother Teresa received a letter from this man that simply said, “Dear Mother Teresa, I just want to tell you that the light you lit in my life is still burning.”

There are so many people today, whose lives are covered by the dust of pain and sorrow; and whose lives are messy, like the home of this lonely brother in Calcutta. Can we be their light? It is our Christian calling to raise those who have fallen, to wipe away the tears from the eyes of those who are despairing, and to bring the light of Christ to a world that is filled with so many pockets of darkness, in the brokenness and wounds of our pandemic times. Let us bring light to others by our simple presence and loving touch, kind and encouraging words, wherever we are, especially in our own homes, workplaces, and our small communities. Instead of waiting to do big things, we can light a small candle for others!

In the gospel reading, we heard that Jesus begins His public ministry and faces opposition and rejection by His own people. We can identify with the story of Jesus’ rejection from His own townspeople because such rejection happens to most of us. We might have experienced the pain of rejection caused by hurts, wounds, betrayals, divorce, abandonment, or various forms of abuse. What about rejection by those closest to us? Often, our friends, families, or childhood companions fail to listen to us and refuse to accept us, and the words of grace, love, and encouragement that we offer to them because they are too familiar with us.

Let us check also the other side of the coin. How often do we fail to see God’s image in others because of our own hardened hearts? We must realize that God’s power is always available to transform even the most unlikely people.

Jesus was rejected by his own people because he was a carpenter, the son of Mary and Joseph. At the end of the gospel reading, we noticed that “Jesus was not able to perform any miracles for them because of their lack of faith.” In our lives, too, God cannot do many miracles due to our lack of faith.

Let us ask ourselves: When do miracles happen? When we accept the goodness and beauty in others, especially in those who are with us, then miracles naturally take place. When we have trust in others and ready to accept others as they are, then only do miracles take place! We should learn to let go of our past baggage, learn from our mistakes, and look at it as an opportunity to make our future brighter. We should accept ourselves the way we are and learn to improve ourselves positively. Let us recognize God’s presence in our family members and friends by accepting them as they are and trusting them without any judgments. Let us promote and encourage the goodness in others!

C.S. Lewis, writing from the perspective of someone in heaven to a friend in purgatory, shares, “Our light can swallow up your darkness: but your darkness cannot now infect our light.” A tiny candle can be seen for miles on a dark night, just as faith in a small act of God’s love can beat back temptations to despair!

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