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Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God and the Lord has chosen you to be a people of his own possession, out of all the nations that are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 14:2)

The Jewish people have a very special place in the history of salvation. They were the first to receive revelation about the one true God, and they had a special relationship with him. This relationship carried many responsibilities; they were framed in the Law, which was sacred to them. However, it was easy to regard their privileged situation as an excuse to feel superior to all other people.

Jesus was coming back to his own village of Nazareth. Small communities  have a tendency to build themselves a comfort zone with its own rules, and anyone who challenges these is rejected. Jesus must have expected a warm welcome from the people who knew him, and he would have hoped to bring the Good News to his own people. Far from welcoming him, however, his neighbours reacted to him with hostility. With his references to the Sidonian widow and Naaman the Syrian he was suggesting that God extends his love and healing to people other than the chosen people. They were so offended by this idea that they tried to throw him off a cliff.

Perhaps the lesson for us is that God has no favourites, as Peter discovered in his encounter with Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10:34-36). His love extends to all and there is much we could learn from other faiths.