Thoughts on the Word
Mark 6:1-13 (NRSV)
He left that place and came to his home town, 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 offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, 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. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
This week's Gospel reading sees Jesus return home to Nazareth, where he is rejected by friends and family. He suffers the fate of so many of the prophets of God, as the people listen to him, only to turn away from him saying "‘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?’ " They took offence at him - basically saying who does he think he is?! Does he think he is better than us?!
It is something that we often overlook in Jesus ministry - he was a prophet of God as well as the Son of God - and God incarnate!. It is important to understand that in the Bible a prophet of God is not necessarily someone who tells the future - though they sometimes did warn of future events and consequences. The word prophet comes from the Greek -pro + ph-e t -e s—literally, one who speaks “on behalf of.” A prophet then is not one who looks into the future, but one who has insight and an understanding of the present. The biblical prophets were who were called by God speak to their communities, to pass on the message of God to those who needed to hear it. The community would gladly accept them as a great prophet of God when their message was affirming. But when they criticized the community and challenged it to repent and turn back to God, the prophet was often rejected along with the message.
Jesus was the ultimate prophet, he came bearing a message of God so important, so powerful that if we accept it then we are reconciled with our creator. However there were (and are) a large number of people who 'take offence at him' and his message. The people of Jesus' home town took offense when they saw this up-start come in preaching repentance and salvation. Wasn't this just the carpenter's son? What makes him think he can come home and start telling us how to live - does he think is better than us?
I wonder how often do we as followers of Jesus get jealous of those who are gifted with God's grace in areas that we aren't? Are you on one of those who rejects or gets annoyed with people because of the way they preach, teach, talk or walk? I know I have been guilty! I am maturing slowly through much prayer and reflection - though I have a long way to go!
In other circumstances, we might be the ones who feel unappreciated, overlooked or rejected. We have our own gifts, and it can be upsetting for us if we perceive that we have been rejected when we genuinely possess an ability or want to offer our service or advice. We would do well to remember the words of St Paul in today's New Testament reading:
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NRSV)
Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
Truly the Grace of God is sufficient for us in any circumstance. He will never abandon us, and even though we would ask for redress of our perceived injustice, if we place our faith in Christ, then truly His Grace will prevail in our lives.
As you move forward this week and you find yourself frustrated, or annoyed at some circumstance, reflect on the life of Jesus, and St Paul - and so many other saints through the ages. Remember if his grace was sufficent for them - it is certainly sufficent for us also