After his Baptism in the Jordan and fasting in the desert
Jesus returned to Galilee to preach the Good News of the
Gospel to the people of his own locality. He based himself
in Capernaum which is a bigger town about twenty or so
miles away from Nazareth.
It did not take too long for stories of his preaching and miracles to reach his home town. After touring some of the surrounding villages Jesus eventually ends up in his own native place where he stands up to speak in the synagogue. This was something quite normal for an adult male to do especially on his return home after having had some experience of the wider world.
We can imagine that there was some expectation as to what he would say in the synagogue after his absence of several months during which time the local inhabitants had heard numerous stories about him.
Alone among the Synoptic Gospels it is St Luke who says that in the synagogue Jesus quotes the prophecy of Isaiah concluding with the words, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ This incurs the ire of the people and shortly afterwards they drive him out of the town.
Here Mark says nothing about the content of his teaching but only gives the reaction of the people to it. As in Luke, at first they are astonished at the sublime words coming from his lips but then on reflection they choose to reject him.
These people had seen Jesus grow up in their midst and they obviously found it difficult to accept that this person they thought they knew had changed so much. Maybe there was also an element of envy leading them to think that Jesus had somehow got above himself.
The people say that they know his mother and his brothers and sisters and give this as the reason for rejecting him. This is surely a case of those who knew him best actually understanding him the least.
It is curious that they are at first attracted by his message but then reject him on the grounds that they know him. This seems a very flimsy reason indeed but we know that people are generally quite fickle and don’t need much encouragement to take a stand against something. They are probably living quite shallow lives and don’t want to be lifted up and challenged to live a more noble life.
It says in the text that Jesus does heal a few people in Nazareth but very soon he leaves the town saying that, ‘A prophet is despised only in his own country.’
It is interesting that the townsfolk mention that they know Jesus’ mother and not his father; this surely means that St Joseph must have died by this time. The references they make to the brothers and sisters of Jesus are generally interpreted by Catholic scholars as referring to his cousins. They take quite a wide view of the terms brother and sister.
However, Protestant scholars, who do not accept the virginity of Mary, tend to take these references to brothers and sisters rather literally. But, of course, we know that in the ancient world families were quite extended and it was common enough for cousins to live next door to each other or even in the same house.
This rejection by the people of Nazareth is only the first of many other rejections that Jesus is to face. Ultimately, of course, he will face the greatest rejection of them all when the authorities will put him on trial and sentence him to death on the Cross.
This final rejection will, however, be overturned and Christ will victoriously rise from the dead and bring with him into heaven all of those who embrace his Gospel of peace. We know the story of Jesus and we know that rejection is turned into vindication, loss into gain, disaster into triumph.
Every human being is presented with the same choice that those people of Nazareth faced, either to accept or reject Jesus. Once we hear his message we have to choose whether to believe it or not.
Often enough people decide to reject the Gospel. However, like the citizens of Nazareth the people of today often dress up their rejection; they give one insubstantial reason or another for their refusal to believe.
Those Nazarenes said: we have known him for years, we used to change his nappies; therefore he is essentially one of us which means we cannot accept him as a great teacher or miracle worker.
In the modern world we might say that science has now solved all the important the questions of life and we do not need to listen to a preacher whose message is already 2,000 years old.
Or we might only hear some of his words and turn-away bored, and ignore the substance of his message. Or we might choose to misunderstand his words and reject them because we do not know what he is talking about.
There are lots of reactions that we could take towards Jesus but they all end up being either acceptance or rejection.
The Good News is that we are gathered here in this Church because we have heard the Word of God and believe it. We have decided to listen to Jesus’ words of life. We have chosen to reject our sins and to embrace the Gospel of love.
Although in today’s Gospel reading we hear about his own people who refused to listen to him we also know that there were many others, like ourselves, who actually did accept Jesus and his message.
We think of the shepherds present at his birth, the wise men from the east, the Apostles, as well as sinners like Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, the Woman of Samaria, the Good Thief and so on.
We also think of some people who were in positions of power like the Centurion, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
But most of all we think of the poor and the lowly, the downtrodden and the oppressed, the weak and the simple; these people accepted Jesus eagerly and knew that he had come with a real message of hope and reassurance.
We ought to class ourselves with all these people who embraced the Gospel and do our level best to live out in our lives the values Christ presents to us. We earnestly seek salvation and we know that it is only to be found in Jesus, the one true Savior of the World; to him be glory for ever and ever.
Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
July 5, 2015
Fourteenth Sunday: Power Made Perfect In Weakness
The second reading for today is written by a troubled man. The reading itself is troubling for us. In St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, he writes about a thorn in the flesh that he suffered from. Three times he begged the Lord to remove this from Him. But all he heard was the Lord saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” What was it that was upsetting St. Paul so much? People have speculated over the years, but we have no way of knowing. Whatever it was, it was significant for Paul. It could not have been something as minor as a speech impediment as some have speculated. Nor could it have been his caustic temper. It was something far more personal and even more severe. It probably kept him awake at night.
Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time
Mark 6: 1–6.
It is really sad to note the attitude of Jesus’ home town to their suddenly famous neighbor. On the surface, it is the usual story of how familiarity can breed contempt. They know how “ordinary” Jesus has been and they cannot allow him now to represent a world that is so much larger than their own little town. This is a strange mixture of pride and envy, with the latter seeming to take hold at Nazareth.
The tragic consequence of their refusal to abandon their provincial narrowness is that Jesus “was not able to perform any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Jesus could not work more miracles there because they would not permit it! They could not open themselves to a world beyond their own safe little village. Of course, this new world that Jesus has entered is not just the world beyond Nazareth; it is the world beyond this world!