Jesus patently did not see himself as a political and military leader. Indeed his claims are in striking contrast of the messianic portrait in the reading from Jeremiah which is the first reading today.
However, his claims were clearly offensive to his fellow townspeople. Indeed, he might have had less trouble with them if he announced, like several other populist leaders of his era, that he was proclaiming a holy war against the Romans and would lead a march on Jerusalem.
As we saw last Sunday, however, his vision of the New Age was drastically different. So he was offensive to his neighbors both because he made and outrageous claim and because the claim was not, as they saw it, radical enough.
A famous novelist came back to his home town after many years.
He had pledged to contribute two million dollars for a new hospital. Many of his friends from his school days were invited to a reception for him and his wife. Some of them ignored the invitation. Why only two million, they muttered. He could have paid for the whole hospital with all the money he has. The rest went to the party, but they were not particularly happy about the whole event. Who does this guy think he is?
Heíd been a quiet, unobtrusive little guy when he was in school, the kind of person youíd hardly notice. He generally was not invited anywhere. None of the women in his class would have considered dating him if they had been asked, only he never asked. They had heard rumors that his novels were about the town and about them. They believed the rumors of course, but since they hadnít read any of his books, they didnít know for sure. He had to find a freshman to take to the senior prom! So heíd made a lot of money on his novels? Why did that make him a big deal? OK give the money for the hospital, but you should have given more with all you have, but donít show up in town and expect us to cheer for you. Youíre not a big deal now and you never were. Nor were they impressed with the beautiful woman he had married. (They had known her as an obnoxious freshman.) Anyone can look beautiful if her husband has a lot of money. She was still cheap despite all their money. They didnít join the receiving line, because they didnít want to have to talk to either of them. However, he had the nerve to walk around the room and say hello to everyone and recall incidents from their school days which they never remembered. They tried to be polite but it was very hard. Then they went home and said to their children.
Heís not a big deal. He never was.
1 I give thee thanks, O LORD, with my whole
heart; before the gods I sing thy praise;
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