The scene depicted in today’s Gospel starts out on such a high note. We hear Jesus proclaiming that the poor and oppressed, the blind and the captives, have reason to hope. God is going to meet their needs. Who wouldn’t rejoice in that news? When he finished speaking, the murmuring began, and to our relief the crowd approved. How eloquently he must have spoken. But, within moments, word starts getting around that he is just the neighborhood kid, Joseph’s boy, and with this knowledge the crowd becomes suspicious. In the midst of this chatter, Jesus doesn’t try to justify himself; he doesn’t start citing his credentials. In fact, he further muddies the water by challenging them and reminding them that their ancestors also doubted the prophets.

This is something the crowd doesn’t want to hear, so just as quickly as they praised him, they turn on him. How often do we do that? How often do we reject coworkers, friends, even family members, when they say things we don’t want to hear. As followers of Jesus we must allow ourselves to hear the Gospel challenge when it is soothing and affirming, as well as when it is difficult and frightening. Our faith demands it.

There is another challenge in today’s Gospel that we don’t want to miss. It is our own call to imitate Jesus in proclaiming loud and clear the truth of the liberating Gospel that he witnessed to with his life. In each and every moment we are called to speak the Christian truth: We are called to proclaim it to those who perhaps can’t fully comprehend it, to those who will not agree with us, and even to those who can hurt us, those who have the power to make our lives difficult in a myriad of settings. As a follower of Jesus, as followers of the one who lived, died and rose for us, he demands no less.

What truth is someone trying to speak to you? Is there a truth that you are being called to speak this day?

—Judy Henry McMullan earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (formerly Weston Jesuit School of Theology). She currently works as a Pastoral Care Minister at Bethany Health Care Center in Framingham, MA