“Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honour.” Jesus, in Mark 6:1-13, NIV.
“The problem with the wife who has known you since way before you were king of the world is that she sees through your facade…… She knows that, deep down inside, you are not the Master of the Universe you purport to be.” Journalist Sarah Vine, as she and Cabinet Minister Michael Gove announce their separation.
In today’s Gospel Jesus has returned to Nazareth, where he grew up, after healing a paralytic, Peter’s mother in law and the woman with a haemorrhage as well as restoring Jairus’ daughter to life. Perhaps Jesus had thought that the townsfolk would welcome him as he teaches in their synagogue but, despite acknowledging the wisdom in his words and the marvels that have happened, instead they insult him. “Isn’t this the carpenter…. Mary’s son?” they ask, mentioning his brothers and sisters but making no reference to Joseph and thereby intimating that Jesus is illegitimate. Mark tells his readers that Jesus could do no miracles there except lay hands on a few sick people and heal them – but even that must have made a huge difference to the lives of those who came to him. Jesus has not come to be honoured by his community but to do what God asks of him and so he goes to teach in the surrounding villages. His mission continues, regardless of what people think of him.
That has not been the case with some English Government officials recently, where public opinion has been a factor in whether or not they could continue in office. Having been called a hypocrite in some national newspaper headlines for not following the rules he introduced, former Health Secretary Matt Hancock now faces the possibility of deselection as an MP by local politicians. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also been the target of negative comments from Dominic Cummings, who has himself admitted to having been untruthful at times…… Like all of us, politicians are fallible whereas Jesus is authentic and honours God’s authority, despite the disbelief of those who have known him since childhood. He finds a way to avoid confrontation and sends out the Twelve to preach and heal. They do, following the strict guidelines he gives them – and many sick people are healed.
Most of the people of Nazareth chose not to face the challenge that Jesus brought and find reasons not to respond to him. In being “amazed” by their lack of faith, it might have been hard for Jesus to experience this criticism and isolation from those he grew up with and with whom he was familiar, but he is able to press on without wasting further time. In doing so, regardless of his own ministry, others are empowered, lives changed and God’s word heard.
Perhaps there are times when those with whom we are familiar criticise or insult us and there may be occasions for all of us when we need time for wounds to heal and alternatives to be considered. Perhaps, too, we have caused that for others. Recently, it has been obvious that some communities are critical of the leadership of some of those in authority and divided in their responses to what is unfolding. This encounter between Jesus and his home crowd may remind us that we need to reconsider our response to those around us in our local settings and what they may expect from us or we from them. Reassessment may lead to new possibilities as pandemic restrictions are eased, consequences faced and as God’s call still sounds in our lives today. Will we heed it and, if a situation is causing criticism or rejection, what alternative could there be so that hope rather than negativity may result?
With my prayers; pob bendith,