He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations/
Why is it that a prophet is without honor except in that person’s hometown? And just why is it that we so often allow our hardness of heart to literally or more often figuratively kill the prophets in our midst? The truth is that we reject not only the prophets around us – we also reject the prophet within. We mistrust the impulse to stand up for what is right, to stick our neck out and take control. We hear the word of God; we see an opportunity to make a difference. But then we let ourselves off the hook by saying things like: I am too young or too old, too unprepared, too weak and sinful, too busy …
St. Paul was also hounded by the thought of his inadequacy. He begged three times that God would remove the thorn in his flesh. But the prayer seems not to have been answered. If, like St. Paul, you and I could be content with our weakness for the sake of Christ, maybe one day we would find our spirits unleashed, our hearts emboldened, our words firm and free. We would make our own the mystery expressed in Paul’s words: “When I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.”
Today’s gospel takes us to the Nazareth hometown synagogue of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The gospel tells us that Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith and so couldn’t work any miracles there. Surely we wouldn’t want Jesus to move along from our home town as he did from Nazareth, shaking the dust from his sandals, able to work no miracles because of our lack of faith – faith translated into practical action and belief. This coming week of grace, may our hearts be strong, our words firm and free, our lives anchored in the faith and hope and love of Jesus Christ!
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, we need your help to peel away the excuses that keep us timid and wavering. In this very day we will have the opportunity to silence gossip, to share our beliefs, or express our discomfort with jokes and stories that demean the integrity of others. If my behavior is shaped by wanting to please others, to be accepted by the important people, guide me to break free of such desire and to put all my desire in standing for you, Lord.
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!