We were created for eternal Beatitude -- that is, eternal life with God. After spelling out the Beatitudes in the Gospel passage from last week, Jesus tells us how we are to live so as to receive this gift from the Father. In short, we must become more and more like Christ. Specifically, we are called to forgive like Christ, love like Christ, and serve like Christ. Today Jesus calls us to a radical kind of forgiveness: "Love not only your friends; love your enemies as well."
In the Gospel passage today we hear about Jesus' rejection in the synagogue at Nazareth. We may tend to think that it was easy for him to face the anger and consternation of his kinfolk and neighbors, but as a human being I am certain that it affected Jesus. Any of us who have faced slander or gossip or bullying (in person or online) know how hard it is to stand up to such injustices. Jesus was able to endure these and many insults that were hurled at him because he KNEW that he is the Father's beloved Son. I believe that Jesus replayed those words that were spoken at his baptism again and again all his life -- especially in the midst of danger and difficulty. The same is true for us: whether we heard it audibly or not, God spoke to us at our baptism: "You are my beloved child; in you I am well pleased." May these be the words that we hear the loudest -- and not the voices of violence and division around us.