Did you ever try to help someone out who was having a problem? And even though the issues are as plain as day to you, the person just can’t see it for themselves? Even worse, the guy really doesn’t want to hear anything about it. In their view, the problem lies with others, not with themselves. So, they just ignore you.
In the synagogue Jesus drops a bomb on his listeners when he reads that passage from the Scriptures and then says in so many words, “So, I’m that guy, I have come to save you, to forgive your sins, to help you”. The next part of the story in the gospel (which we didn’t hear) tells us that they people rose up and chased him out of the place!! They were having none of that. Did anyone these people even think for a moment that they actually needed his help? Probably not.
This encounter with Christ requires something. It requires a decision—from us. We have to decide whether or not we really need Christ in our life. That’s the starting point. It’s everything in getting to know who Christ is and having a relationship with him.
There’s a great little story about the Pope. when he was elected, he accepted the election with these words: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And then several months after the election, a reporter asked him: “So who is Pope Francis?” And he replied: “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”
Then he uses this image to drive home his point:
It’s one thing when people tell us a story about someone’s risking his own life to save a boy drowning in a river. It’s something else when I’m the one drowning, and someone gives his life to save me!”
So, you see how Francis sees his relationship with Christ. We have to first acknowledge that we need Christ in our life—that’s the important first step. Sometimes we might think in our deepest thoughts, that we really don’t need Christ. That we’re really not sinners—or at least “serious” sinners: I’m not as bad as some other people I know. Or better yet, the person who says that all those who go to church are hypocrites. Actually, if you see yourself as a sinner, the best place to be is at Mass. That’s the reason for the liturgy—really! Christ died for you so that you could be saved. Don’t say to him, “you were wasting your time, I don’t need that—that death of yours is for someone else in worse shape than me.
So, are we the ones who refuse to listen because we don’t think we have a problem, or don’t need Christ? Is he too much for us, like those in that ancient synagogue?
Jesus wants us to need him.
Here’s a great little prayer that we can say throughout the day: “Jesus, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” But this won’t mean anything unless we make that first decision—to say, yes, I am a sinner.