Vatican City, 31 January 2016 (VIS) – At midday today the Pope prayed the Angelus with the pilgrims and faithful in St. Peter's Square. Beforehand he commented on the day's Gospel reading, which "like last Sunday leads us to the synagogue of Nazareth, the village of Galilee where Jesus grew up in His family and was known to all. He had left shortly before to begin His public life, but returns for the first time and presents Himself to the community, gathered on the Sabbath in the synagogue. He reads the passage from the prophet Isaiah, who speaks about the future messiah, and at the end declares: 'Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing'. His fellow townspeople, at first surprised and admiring, began to sneer and murmur among themselves, and to say, 'why does this man who claims to be the Consecrated of the Lord not repeat here the works and miracles that He did in Capernaum and the other nearby towns?'. Jesus then declares, 'No prophet is accepted in his own native place', and recalls the great prophets of the past, Elijah and Elisha, who worked miracles for the pagans in order to denounce the lack of faith of their people. At this point, those present are offended, they rise in indignation, they drive Jesus out of the town and want to throw Him over a precipice. But He, with the strength of His peace, 'passed through the midst of them and went away'. His hour had not yet come".
The Pope explained that this account of the Evangelist Luke is not simply the story of a community dispute, as can sometimes happen in our own neighbourhoods too, caused by envy and jealousies, but also brings to light a temptation that a religious person is always vulnerable to — we are all vulnerable to it — and which we must certainly avoid. … It is the temptation to consider religion as a human investment and thus to 'negotiate' with God, seeking our own interests. Instead, true religion is receiving the revelation of a God Who is the Father and Who cares for every one of his creatures, even the smallest and least significant in the eyes of man. This is precisely what Jesus’ prophetic ministry consists of: announcing that no human condition can be a motive for exclusion … from the heart of the Father, and that the only privilege in the eyes of God is that of not having privileges. The only privilege in the eyes of God is that of not having privileges, of not having protectors, of abandoning oneself in His hands".
“The 'today' proclaimed by Christ that day applies to every day; it resonates for us in this Square too, reminding us of the current importance of and need for salvation brought by Jesus to humanity. God goes out towards the men and women of all times and places in the concrete situations in which they find themselves. He also comes out towards us. He is always the one Who takes the first step. He comes to visit us with His mercy, to lift us from the dust of our sin; He comes to extend His hand to lift us from the abyss in which our pride has caused us to fall, and He invites us to welcome the consoling truth of the Gospel and to walk the paths of righteousness. He always comes to find us, to seek us".
Francis concluded by invoking Our Lady, explaining that the situation was a foretaste of what she would suffer below the Cross, seeing her Son in the synagogue, "first admired, then challenged, then insulted, and threatened with death. In her heart, filled with faith, she conserved all these things".