We celebrate the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend. In the Gospel passage, Jesus is teaching on the sabbath in the synagogue in his native place, his home town. He is received with some skepticism. People are astonished at his wisdom and his mighty deeds. For years they have known him as the carpenter, the son of Mary. They can’t understand how this Jesus can be the same person as this great teacher and healer in their midst. “They took offense at him,” the Gospel says. Jesus was not able to perform any deeds among them. The Gospel passage ends by saying that Jesus is astonished at their lack of faith.
We have similar experiences in our own lives when we are not readily welcomed or accepted. People may not have faith in us for any number of reasons. Moving away from home to go to college or to take a new job, and returning home several years later, people may remark how we have changed, matured, and developed a greater sense of self-confidence. Some are delighted with it, and others are threatened by it. Some people have pre-conceived notions of us, and they find it difficult to accept that we have grown and changed. I am not referring to outright rejection like Jesus experienced, but I am speaking about the tensions that arise from these experiences. Sometimes it happens with friends. We may encounter someone we have not seen for years, and it seems like only yesterday since we have seen the person, and we are able to pick up from where we left off. Other times, we encounter an old friend whom we hardly recognize because the person is so different than we have known him/her to be. We seem to have no common ground and realize why we have grown apart. Then there are the times when we ourselves judge others and keep them from entering “our circles” instead of welcoming them as Jesus would do.
Whatever our experience has been, let us reflect upon Jesus and his response to non-acceptance and rejection. Jesus knows who he is and what his mission is, and that he is not going to please everyone. He realizes he must continue preaching the same message, not necessarily in his home town. Moving on is not giving up. He continues to heal and demonstrate God’s great deeds. In spite of rejection, we know that his message was effective. We know that his life, death, and resurrection had a profound effect on numerous people. Look how the Church has grown! How are we helping the Church continue to grow?
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ