July 5, 2015: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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. (Mark 6:1-6)
Today’s Gospel contains words of “irony”– when someone says the opposite of what they really think. Do you think people in the synagogue are admiring Jesus when they say, “Where did he get all this?” Or are they envious and speaking sarcastically? It seems what they really mean is “Who does he think he is???” They think they know all about Jesus because they grew up in the same hometown and they know who his parents and relatives are. They can’t see anything in Jesus except what they are so sure they know.
The surprising result is that Jesus is unable to perform “mighty deeds” there. He doesn’t refuse to heal; he is unable. Why? Doesn’t Jesus have the power to do anything he wants? The last line of today’s reading gives the clue: Jesus is surprised that they don’t believe in him. It seems that faith is necessary for Jesus to heal. Maybe those sick people are so desperate to get well that they believe in him even though everyone else refuses to believe.
I talk with Jesus about this reading. Jesus, help me to believe in you. Please lead me beyond what I think I know. Help me to be glad for the gifts others have and not to be envious of them. Increase my faith so you can work your “mighty deeds” in my life and in our world.
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