I wonder what made the people in today’s reading so very angry? Sure, on one level it was what Paul was teaching about Jesus. But what was it about his teaching that was so upsetting?
My guess is that they felt threatened by it. They saw Paul as teaching “against our people and our law and this place.” They were afraid that if people practiced the things Paul was teaching about, their way of life, the things they valued, their very existence as a people would come to an end.
And it seems to me that there is a fair amount of material taught in the Bible that might be equally threatening to us. What if we lived like Jesus, or Paul, lived? I mean really lived like they did, with the same kind of passion for God and for people? With the same kind of selflessness and material detachment? With the same kind of willingness to suffer for what they believed was right (which is a very different thing, of course, than causing others to suffer for what we believe is right!) With the same kind of inclusiveness for the poor (do we even know anyone who is really poor?) and the socially excluded (the “wrong kind of people”)?
My guess is that would be pretty threatening to us as well. We don’t riot or get angry, though. We just ignore it.
But I wonder… is that really any better?