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The rejection at Nazareth

Gospel Reading: Mk 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

They took offense at him

The end of the Gospel describes the people “taking offense” or being “scandalized” (Greek eskandalizonto) by what they discover to be Jesus’ “true” credentials. In other words, who Jesus is does not match their expectations, and so they reject him.

On the one hand, they see his marvelous works and are amazed at his wisdom; and so, perhaps, they are expecting him to be someone special, educated, sophisticated. On the other hand, they realize he is known to them, he is their neighbor, and they know so much about him. And so, they conclude there must be something “hazy” about this person, and they choose to disregard him.

It is amazing how our prejudices and biases can affect our judgments and decisions. Stories have been told of how some people incurred so much shame and embarrassment upon discovering that the person they thought was, or treated like, the driver, turned out to be the bishop they were expecting! Yes, we often judge people by their appearance, by their gender or race, and we get into trouble.

We are told of how the town mates of Jesus are amazed at his extraordinary teaching and wisdom. This may very well bring them joy and hope. They can tell themselves, “Here is someone different, someone special; he must be God-sent.” But then they are overcome by what they realize to be Jesus’ background and credentials. And so the grace of God cannot work in them. As a matter of fact, this grace, ironically, becomes their downfall. If the people of Nazareth only discern who this person is whose teaching and wisdom is so extraordinary, they will arrive at the knowledge that he is the Son of God sent into the world.

Indeed, when we remain on the surface, when we do not discern the real value of persons and things, we cannot go farther. But if we learn to listen to people and take their message to heart, we open ourselves to growth and deeper meanings.

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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.