Name or Nature? 14th Sunday in ordinary time -Mark 6: 1-6
We move from belief to disbelief, and the fact that this disbelief comes from Jesus’ own hometown in Nazareth, makes this incident all the more shocking. But this brings to a close on Mark’s collation of the rejection of Jesus in Galilee, a rejection that began in Chapter 3:7 and reaches a crescendo in 6:6.
Jesus moves from the western shore of Galilee, inland towards Nazareth, and here the rejection is personal. Rejection is always harder when it source is one’s own family. His own did not accept Him while strangers in Capernaum did!
Jesus comes to the synagogue in Nazareth and begins to teach. The initial reaction of being ‘astounded’ to such wisdom, gives way to more negative comments which are personal in nature. Unlike Jarius and the haemorrhaging woman, they can only see a face, not faith – they recognise a name, not His nature. One would never understand why the ‘son of the town’ who has such wisdom, would not be celebrated? But then again human beings are fickle!
The description of Jesus as the ‘son of Mary’ was more an insult than a desire to identify Him. Jews were customarily known by their father’s name; they should have called Him the ‘son of Joseph’. But it is their own thoughts that scandalize them (vs3). Interestingly the translation of ‘they took offense’ is ‘skandalon’ or in English scandal, whose roots reveal that a scandal is more a ’stumbling block’. It is not the words or the person of Jesus that cause His hometown folk to be scandalized, but their own thoughts that become a ‘stumbling block’ to His acceptance.
Perhaps we need to look at our own stumbling blocks, the coloured glasses that we look at people with. Often we glibly dismiss people for their colour, creed, and sexual orientations. We see their actions as a scandal, and so reject them. Remember the words of Pope Francis, “who am I to judge?” In doing so, we dehumanize a human person and fail to see the ‘prophet’ in them. We close our doors to them and our hearts to Jesus, reducing them all to mere ‘carpenters’.
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