This Sunday we celebrate the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time. This week’s Gospel passage begins with the exact same verse that ended last week’s Gospel: “Today, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” In today’s Gospel, all are amazed at Jesus and speak highly of him. Yet, they are perplexed because they thought they knew him. They ask, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” Sometimes, in our own experience, we have grown up with individuals, gone to the same schools, lived in the same neighborhoods, been part of the same parish family, or worked with them. When we encounter them in the future and they act differently from what we are accustomed or do something out of the ordinary, we may respond in a number of ways. We may ignore it, find it hard to believe, or become amazed. When we ignore it, those individuals make no difference in our lives. When we find it hard to believe, we tend to criticize or spread rumors, or put the person down, or insinuate that there is no way they could have done what they have been credited for. When we become amazed, we tend to affirm, congratulate, express gratitude, or sometimes put the person up on a pedestal (only to disappoint us at a later time). I would like to share an example in my own life. The least likely person in my graduating class ended up going through college, continuing his education to get a doctorate in history, and then teach at a prestigious university out east. He came home for class reunions and I always enjoyed our conversations. [I did not associate with him much in high school because I thought he was immature and a trouble maker]. During a conversation at our 40th class reunion he was sharing with me his ministry in his parish and his involvement on the RCIA team and how much it enriched his life. I was truly amazed and stunned and grateful not only for his success at teaching but how spiritually enriching his life had become. He died from cancer a couple of years ago. Relating with him in the later years of life was a blessing and taught me that people can and do change. Just like Jesus “grew in wisdom, age and grace,” we experience continual conversion in our lives along with deeper insight into our gifts and the ways in which we can share them for building up the Body of Christ. Just as Jesus carried out the mission of his Father, some were amazed, and others criticized and ostracized him, and refused to accept him. We who have been baptized into the Paschal Mystery, may experience the same. Let us not be the cause of another’s suffering just because “someone acts out of character” from how we have known them to be.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ