Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 2:2-5; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6
…Nazarene neighbors faithfully clung to their wide reputation of narrow meanness and ran their carpenter-son out of town. (Irene Zimmerman, “Homecoming”)
Do you remember your friends and neighbors from childhood? I remember athletes and artists, bullies and troublemakers, faithful friends and competitive companions. Are your friends etched in your memory as they were decades ago or do you acknowledge that we all change as we mature?
In today’s Gospel passage we see the people of Jesus’ hometown retained their memory of Jesus as a child. As he teaches in the local synagogue, they are astounded by the carpenter who grew up among them. They know his relatives. He cannot be teaching with wisdom and power! Jesus doesn’t fit their initial perception that he is just another citizen of Nazareth—someone who grew up among them. Ultimately, they take offense at Jesus and no longer welcome him in town.
Because of their “narrow meanness,” they missed a visit by the Son of God. He could not do much in Nazareth; he needed the response of faith. The neighbors wondered how God could be acting through someone so close to them. Jesus was so close to them, they couldn’t see him.
God is always reaching out to you and me. We are called to be alert and open to God’s grace, even among our neighbors whom we don’t really see and perhaps take for granted. It may be the one who criticizes us and causes us pain, but later we realize their comments were helpful. God comes in good times too, and often we miss the part God played in our joy. Other times our plans don’t work out, and it turns out to be a blessing.
Most of all, God comes in the person of the neighbor, especially the neighbor in need. Keep on the lookout for Jesus. He may be coming to town in the guise of someone you thought you knew. He’s so close, you may miss him.
During this week, recall times when you spotted Jesus in disguise or missed him completely.
Sr. Mary Ann Collins, O.P.