Do not despise the prophet
The story never fails to surprise. Jesus was rejected precisely in his own town, among those who thought they knew him better than anyone else. He arrives at Nazareth, accompanied by his disciples, and no one comes out to meet him, unlike what happens sometimes in other places. Nor do they bring him the sick of the town so he may cure them.
His presence only awakens astonishment in them. They do not know who could have taught him a message so full of wisdom. Nor can they explain where the healing power of his hands springs from. The only thing they know is that Jesus is a worker who was born in a family from their town. They took offense at him for all this.
Jesus feels “rejected”: his own do not accept him as the bearer of God’s message and salvation. They have formed an idea of who their neighbor Jesus is and they resist opening themselves to the mystery that is enclosed in his person. Jesus reminds them of a saying that everyone probably knows: A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.
At the same time, Jesus is amazed at their lack of faith. It is the first time that he experiences a collective rejection, not coming from religious leaders, but from everyone in his home town. He was not expecting this of his own. His disbelief even goes so far as to block his ability to heal: he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people.
Mark does not relate this episode to satisfy his readers’ curiosity, but to warn the Christian communities that Jesus can be rejected precisely by those who believe they know him best, by those who have preconceived ideas and do not open themselves either to the newness of his message or to the mystery of his person.
How are we who take ourselves to be “Jesus’ own” welcoming him?
- In a world that has become so advanced, is not our faith all too infantile and superficial?
- Do we not spend life being too indifferent to the revolutionary newness of his message?
- Is not our lack of faith in his transforming power strange?
- Do we not run the risk of quenching his Spirit and despising his Prophecy?
- This was Paul of Tarsus’ concern: Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophetic utterances, test everything; retain what is good” (1 Thes 5,19-21). Do not we Christians today need something like this?
July 5, 2015
14 Ordinary Time (B)
Mark 6, 1-6