July 8, 2018: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: Mark 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.
Anyone who has been a parent, or volunteered with, or taught adolescents knows that they can be as disbelieving as the townsfolk in Mark’s Gospel. I remember my first year teaching high school. Within a few days of the start of classes, one upperclassman walked into my room announcing, “You think you are so brilliant with your Ph.D. Well, if you really were someone smart you would have invented something and retired a millionaire by now. You wouldn’t be here.” The class snickered.
As part of my mind considered and rejected various responses, another part registered that perhaps my friend Mary was wrong when she said she thought I’d be good at and like teaching high school. I was thus silent a tad longer than my students expected.
The pendulum swung the other way. One courageous young woman stood up. She told him to shut up, sit down, and spend a little more time learning and a little less time arguing.
I stepped between the two of them asking everyone to take their seats. I reminded them that God had created the world such that we each had to look deeply at things and decide what the truth was. I told them that yes I could go and work in so many other places that paid more and were more challenging. Yet, I had chosen to be there teaching them. They would only know why I was there if they took the time to get to know me. I had a lot of science to share with them. For today, that was all they needed to know.
The townsfolk Jesus faced were much more stubborn than those students. Sadly, most of them chose not to even try to get to know or understand Jesus. They blindly followed the crowd walking away in ignorance and fear. It was only a few courageous people who thought for themselves and approached Jesus to learn from him and be healed.
Archbishop Oscar Romero said, “The great need today is for Christians who are active and critical, who don’t accept situations without analyzing them inwardly and deeply … We want persons like fruitful fig trees, who can say yes to justice and no to injustice and can make use of the precious gift of life, regardless of the circumstances.” Archbishop Romero is reminding each of us to be brave enough to go live the calling God instills within our heart.
Our world is so quick to rip ideas and people apart. Our news blurbs often contain more conclusion and opinion than fact. This week make a commitment to analyzing things more deeply before acting. Be brave enough to follow your heart. That is Jesus asking you to come find out more. Even if someone’s proposed solution does not have all the answers, look deeply enough to find common ground. Stand and work together for a positive change.