Mk 6.1-6                Ez 2.1-5            2Cor 12.7-10

The call to faith and meaning is always there, but the response can be slow, as we see here, with the cynical locals dismissive of Jesus, without even giving him a chance, to hear what he has to say.  It’s easy to take each other for granted, without thinking twice, and acknowledging the positive qualities and talents of others.  And it’s natural enough to be cynical, when others make a new suggestion or try something new, when we’re more comfortable with what we are familiar with.  We all have our compulsions and an inbuilt resistance to change, even though, when we think about it, and look at our own lives, change is the one constant, given the phases and stages we move through.

Life is short, but sweet, as my maternal grandfather said in his 80’s, I recall as an 8 year old,  however long we live, but it’s a reminder to live life well, and to find purpose and meaning in who we are and what we do.

To me, it’s interesting that throughout history, those who’ve come up with new ideas and thoughts have often been dismissed as thinking they’re too smart for their own good, and ignored in their lifetimes.  Galileo is the classic example, when he suggested the Earth revolved around the Sun in the 17th century, or Darwin hesitatingly proposing the Theory of Evolution in the 19th century, or quantum theory in the 20th century!

Artists and musicians often strike the same invisible barriers, their work being appreciated and worth much more after they’ve gone!  Partly, I guess it’s because we can be subconsciously resentful or envious of the achievements of others, when we wish we were as good ourselves.  Rather than being encouraging or appreciative, we can tend to feel threatened, and resistant to change and something different to what we are familiar with.

So here we have Jesus back in his home town, after a successful and productive start to his public ministry, with the crowds listened to his teachings, his parables, witnessed the healing of the sick and the possessed, the standouts being the woman suffering from illness for 12 years, and then the raising of Jairus’s daughter.

Yet now, he finds difficulty with the locals refusing to give him credibility, even though his reputation must have spread to some extent, with his positive message of hope and call to faith in a God of love, life, forgiveness, compassion and healing.  The natural reaction seems to be “Who does he think he is? He’s just one of us, so nothing special here!”   Yet, by now, in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus has an entourage of followers and friends who are convinced by his words and deeds, that he has a mission to bring change and strengthen faith in those who respond to his message.

He certainly is a different sort of religious teacher and preacher or rabbi, as he is out on the road more than in the synagogues, which is where he seems to be resented the most, even though he is acknowledging continuity with normal Jewish practice of faith and worship.  And a key criticism is his association with those considered unworthy, and who’ve created their own problems in terms of sickness and sin, with an artificial connection made by the judgemental and self-righteous, that it has to be one’s own fault if a person is in trouble of any sort. It provided a cop-out for those who didn’t want to be involved in helping the needy.  Jesus counters that thinking at every encounter, as he reaches out to those disliked, left out and rejected, on the fringes of society of the time.  So he is seen as a direct threat to the traditional thinking of the day.

Also, there were charlatans out there too, as there continue to be, offering false promises and hopes, so Jesus is up against that sort of thinking too, despite the obvious fact that he establishes his own credibility and trust by who he is, what he says and follows through in action, primarily through compassion, forgiveness, healing and encouragement, and, of course, revelation of a God of love and life, in the image of a father.

Then we have Paul today reflecting back on, and admitting to his own weaknesses, the symbolic ‘thorn in the flesh’, that life has weighed him down at times, and that he has felt unworthy of the mission he has taken on as a proclaimer of the Gospel and believer in Jesus.  Yet, strengthened by his faith, and trusting in God’s presence and  grace, on he goes, as he encourages the people of Corinth, and so us, to do the same.

And I guess we could spare a thought for poor old Ezekiel the prophet way back in the 6th century BC, where he carried on for 20 years or so, pre-exile and then after deportation to Babylon, but he persevered in calling the people to believe in and worship the one God, among all the other pagan gods, and to believe in a better future when they would return to Palestine from exile. He had a tough time, but kept at it, believing in his prophetic mission.

And so for all of us, called to ‘hang in there’ as we continue to live the Gospel, with all of our own imperfections and crosses in life.   As Claude Mostowik MSC puts it succinctly: “Our call is to be more than people think and be as God sees us.”

john hannon                                                                                   7th  July 2024

View All