Who Does He Think He is?

He came to his own, and his own people did not accept him.

John 1:11

This Sunday’s Gospel is one of the saddest in the New Testament. Jesus returns home, with his disciples, as a teacher and preaches in the synagogue. At first, all looks promising. They recognise his wisdom and power. They marvel, realising that something more than human is at work in him, and they discuss.

Then something goes wrong. Is it that they were challenged by his teaching? They couldn’t remain the same, listening to Jesus. Conversion was at the heart of his teaching. But you can just hear that first criticism: ‘But he is only a tradesman!’ then ‘We know his Mum!’ And it goes downhill from there.

You can be sure that the relatives named were not the best people in town. Notice, there is no objection to his teaching or to his miracles. Rather than be honest and admit that his teaching is challenging they find anything they can to ridicule him. Then they close off.

Interesting, here. Jesus could face the storm and calm it, confront the demonic and free him, heal sickness and overcome death but against indifference, coldness and disinterest, he is powerless. His love, divine love is constrained by human indifference. This should give us serious pause. He, who will confront death and overcome it, is powerless in the face of indifference and rejection.

Maybe we should all pause. Maybe this is an area in which we should often examine our conscience: with whom and regarding what, am I indifferent. For where we are indifferent, we know God’s love is not at work there. [Living Liturgy 2021]

When Jesus came to Nazareth he could work no miracles there because of their lack of faith.  

That makes me pause and ask:  

  • How many miracles has God not been able to work in my life because I have been closed to God’s ways?  
  • How much good have I rejected because it has not been offered in ways that I am comfortable with?  
  • How often have I not heard the message of God because it has been spoken by someone not respectable enough, someone who is not ‘one of us’? 

As any parent knows, attitude makes the decisive difference 

  • Preaching is in vain if people, if we, are closed.  
  • Peace-making is in vain if people, if we, are closed.  

If we are not prepared to consider another point of view, there will be no conversion, no hope, no grace in our lives.  

Well, we may think that our point of view is right. But nobody has a monopoly on the truth and God can choose to speak the word of grace through the most unlikely people. Even in disagreeing with someone we may find God’s ways in the discussion. So we should pause as ask ourselves: ‘Where am I stopping the miracle of grace in my life?’ 

Adapted Renew International  Year B