2 Samuel 24:2, 9-17
Today Mark shows us Jesus leaving the western side of the Sea of Galilee, where he had been teaching and healing the sick, (and working some mighty deeds such as the raising of Jairus’s daughter, the cure of the woman with the flow of blood, the cure of lepers, and the calling forth of demons). He has turned inland "to his native place," to Nazareth, his home town. And those who had been attracted to him by both his teaching and his miracles of healing, have continued along with him as disciples.
As has been his practice since he began his mission to the fallen of Israel, on the Sabbath he rose in the synagogue of Nazareth and began to teach. Many of these Nazarenes were astonished, and then they began to question. Unlike the disciples that had followed him to Nazareth, these people whom he knew, with whom he had grown up and lived and worked before going off into the desert to prepare for his mission, reacted quite negatively. Their astonishment at this "new Jesus" turned to sarcastic questioning, insult, and rejection. One can almost see the raised eyebrows, the sneers, and hear the comments among them: "Who does he think he is? Where does he get off preaching to us?" Mark states it succinctly: "They took offense at him."
Jesus replied by simply quoting the proverb: "A prophet is not without honor except . . . ."
The result – "he was not able to perform any mighty deed there." These people, his own community, neighbors, friends, kith and kin, rejected him. He was truly amazed at their lack of faith.
What put them off? They knew him, he was one of their own. Why didn’t they welcome him with joy and bring out their sick?
Envy? Pride? Feelings of superiority? Anger at his success among those who had followed him from western Galilee?
And what about me? As a "cradle catholic," I’m "one of his own." Do I hear his prophetic word every day? Do I listen to his voice? When he speaks to me through one of my companions, through a fellow worker, through an event in the news, through a word in conversation that catches me up short – do I listen, do I really listen? Do I take it to my heart, think it through, test it? Or do I react from my own immediate feelings – annoyance, irritation, arrogance – and brush it off? Do I too often react from my selfish self, my not-quite-fully-redeemed self, even though for many years now I claim to be "one of his own?" Does the Lord from time to time stand in amazement at my lack of faith?
Br. Peter A. Fitzpatrick, CFX, a Xaverian Brother, is a Passionist Associate at Ryken House, St. Xavier High School, across the creek from Sacred Heart Passionist Monastery in Louisville,KY.