When Nancy flew from Boston to her mid-western hometown for her 50th high school reunion, she was looking forward to renewing many friendships. But, as she entered the meeting room, she could see that the class had divided itself into two groups. At one end of the large room were the locals who had remained in the town, raised their families there, and maintained many of their lifelong connections. At the other end of the hall was a smaller group whose careers had taken them to many other places in the world.
As Nancy made her way to see friends in each group, she detected that the “hometown” group was secretly envious of those who had led wider lives. Then she saw that the “away” group was secretly envious of those who had lifelong connections with their hometown friends. In addition, the members of each group felt rather smug about their own life choices. A skillful master of ceremonies, however, rescued the reunion by helping everyone see the privileges and the challenges which each group had experienced during the last fifty years.
When we read Luke’s story about Jesus returning to visit his hometown, we see the same division between the “hometown” crowd and Jesus, whose calling led him to embrace a much wider world. Perhaps the locals were angry because they felt a secret envy toward one whose vision included even their enemies—the people of Zarephath. Their leaders stirred these emotions into a life-threatening event for Jesus. How differently this story would have turned out if the locals had embraced their returning scholar.
When do we treat people with anger because we feel threatened by them?
God, help me to see those around me through eyes of love instead of the false lens of bigotry and bias. Amen.