A young girl was bent purposefully over her copybook, her pencil poised in a clear declaration of intent. When her mother asked what she was doing, she said she was drawing a picture.” Of what?” the mother asked. “Of God,” was the answer. “But you can’t draw a picture of God,” her mother declared. “No one knows what God looks like.” “Well they will, when I have finished drawing,” replied the girl, nodding her head.
In a sense we could say that Jesus Christ drew for us a picture of what God is like. And because he drew it in his own body, soul and spirit the picture as the reality. Our gospel reading points to a essential element of the reality that is God. God is sovereign; he is not subject to our caprice or prejudice. He is the a God of all peoples; he belongs to all classes; nobody is excluded from his love.
Jesus drew that picture when he bluntly rebuked his townspeople in Nazareth for their rejection of his message. He pointed to unlearned lessons of the past and so indicated that his own mission too would embrace the Gentiles. And so it was. There is about Jesus and his actions a certain universalism. His disciples come from a range of backgrounds; his mission is weighted in favour of the poor and disadvantaged, yet he dines with the powerful and wealthy; his healing ministry benefits both the poor an the powerful, Gentiles and Jews. It is clear that all people from all walks of life and from all nations will be the recipients of God’s saving message.
Yet Jesus’ universalism is never bland. There is always a strong hint of challenge about it. It is never a mere acceptance of the way things and people are. It is a challenge to people to be what God wants them to be his image and likeness; and to live in justice, love and peace. So Jesus will reprimand his disciples for their overweening ambition; and he will constantly call on those who are rich and powerful to become like himself and to be of service to the powerless and poor.
The people in his home village felt that Jesus should show them special preference. The proverb “Physician, heal yourself” is like saying “charity begins at home.” They would not accept that his message was not a gospel of status or privilege. They failed to see that with God charity begins wherever human need is found and when people have a welcoming faith to receive it. Jesus came to preach the good news about the mercy of God to those open to receive it. The challenge to us is to have an idea about God based on what Jesus taught about Him. Our impression of God should also have an effect on our daily living. God’s grace is not for a small, exclusive circle, and salvation is intended for all people everywhere. If we were to draw our picture of God, let’s hope that it would be recognisably the same as what Jesus taught