Saturday, 7 July 2012

Rejected by His own.

Thank you to Eclesalia Informativo for this reflection on this Sunday's Gospel

José Antonio Pagola. Translator: José Antonio Arroyo

Jesus is not one of theTemple priests, in charge of looking after the religious duties. Nor is he one of the teachers of the Law, appointed to defend the Torah of Moses. The village people of Galilee see in his healing gestures and fiery words one of the old prophets moved by the Spirit.

Jesus knows that he is going to face a difficult life ahead, with all sorts of conflicts. The religious leaders will confront him. That is what happened to every prophet. What Jesus did not expect, however, was that he would be rejected by his own people, those who had known him from childhood.

The way Jesus was rejected by his own inNazareth would become well known among the early Christians. Three evangelists mention the incident in all its details. Mark says that Jesus arrived in Nazareth accompanied by some of his disciples, surrounded by his fame as a healing prophet. His village neighbours don’t know what to make of it.

When Sabbath arrived, Jesus went, as it was customary, to the village synagogue, “and began to teach”. His neighbours and relatives could hardly believe it. There were all sorts of reactions. They had known Jesus from childhood: He was just another neighbour. Where did he learn such amazing things about the    Kingdom of God? How did he get the power to heal the sick?  Mark simply says: “that everything seemed to scandalize them.” Why?

Those villagers thought they knew everything about Jesus. They knew him since childhood. Instead of accepting him as he is returning to them, they are prejudiced by what they had seen and known years earlier. Such memories about Jesus impede them from realizing the mystery that is Jesush. They refuse to see the saving power of God that Jesus has come to manifest.

But there is something more. Should they accept him as a prophet, then they would have to be ready to listen to God’s message as delivered by Jesus. And that would create problems for them. They have their own synagogue, their own sacred books and traditions. They had not had any problems with their religion so far. New ophetic messages might disturb the traditional peace of the village.

Christians have always held different images and ideas about Jesus. Not all these images coincide with what those who knew Him personally saw. All of us form our own ideas about Jesus. Such ideas give rise to different ways of living our faith. If our idea/image of Jesus is poor, distorted or incomplete, our faith will be similarly unreal and distracting.

Why are we so disinterested in knowing the real Jesus? Why are we sometimes scandalized by His human traits and similarities with us? Why do we resist believing that God became incarnate as a Prophet? Are we afraid that such faith would imply profound changes in our Church?

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