Gospel & Reflection 7th July 2024

Gospel & Reflection for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

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 Joset 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 honour 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.

Reflection

Friends, it was in April of 2009, on an episode of ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ that a self-conscious but likable woman made her way on stage to audition. Having been asked, she said her dream was to sing like and be as successful as Elaine Paige. The judges could barely conceal their amusement, and sensing their misgivings, the audience whispered their own doubts too. But amid the sniggering of nearly everyone, this woman began to sing ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from Les Misérables. In an instant, scepticism changed to astonishment as her beautiful voice delivered note after note, perfectly. The shocked audience and judges, who assumed they knew what to expect from her by appearance, had judged her unfairly; and in their standing ovation and glowing comments afterwards, they said as much.
The woman was Susan Boyle, and it was her first chance to sing in public and all her dreams did come through. Her story is a modern parable and a rebuke to all who judge by appearance. It shows us that the beauty that matters most is often on the inside, waiting to get out. However, our inclination to judge others unfairly is not a new phenomenon. As we see in today’s Gospel, Jesus experienced the same in His own hometown, among His own people. They say about Him: “What is this wisdom that has been granted him? This is the carpenter… surely?”
St. Mark, writing in Greek would have used the Greek word ‘tekton’ to describe the occupation of Jesus. It can be translated as ‘carpenter,’ but it actually describes anyone who works on hard material with their hands. But in referring to Jesus as a ‘tekton,’ the folk of Nazareth were in fact sniggering at Him! They were reminding Him that He was not a Rabbi or a Scribe; making it clear that He had no formal education. So, His profound and educated words surprises them but they respond to Him with resentment and they dismiss Him.
What is most interesting about our Gospel is that the good people of Nazareth were not pagan or unfriendly, the very opposite in fact. They have a Synagogue and Rabbis to help them in their faith and relationship with God. They had even invited Jesus to pray with them, having heard so much about Him. But their openness soon closes. They are unconvinced of what they see and hear because it goes against their preconceived assumptions and expectations. They judge Him wrongly; and in doing so, without knowing it, they shut themselves off from God.
This is a similar problem for the Prophet Ezekiel in our First Reading. God sends him, not to a pagan people, but to his and God’s own people, the Israelites. They have turned from God and stopped trusting and praying, and God is trying to get them to return to Him once more. Like the people of Nazareth, God knows that the Israelites will be sceptical too. They may not accept what Ezekiel brings to them but as God says: “Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a Prophet among them.”
Friends, as people of faith, our greatest challenge, like Ezekiel and Jesus, is not to get strangers and unbelievers believing, but to get believing people and those known to us, believing once more. Many people have heard the Good News, have joined the family of the Church through baptism and confirmation, however, they have since turned away from the faith. These people are part of our families, our friends, our community. We know many of them personally and intimately. God calls us to reach out to them all and invite them back to Him. It is not an easy task. People of faith are often misjudged, laughed and sniggered at and accused of causing offence.
But conveying the Word and truth of God is what we are asked to do in spite of how we are underestimated and treated. But whether we are successful or not in summoning people to faith, is not important. What is important is that we remain faithful to our hope filled faith, and that we try to communicate its beauty to others on the stage of life, despite how we are received.
In trying our best to do just that, let us pray that whether others listen or close their ears to our song of faith, they will at least know that through us, a prophet was among them.
Fr. Richard