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WHAT KIND OF HONOUR DOES JESUS WANT FROM US?

Father Francis's picture
Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Mk. 6:1-6

Going home is usually one of life's most eagerly anticipated experiences, especially when we have been away for a long time. It seems reasonable to assume, then, that Jesus had a similar feeling for the small town of Nazareth where He had almost 30 years - before His ministry called Him away.

Today's Gospel reading tells of the occasion He returned there. He must have gone with eager anticipation, only for that visit to be one of the most disappointing experiences of His life. On the Sabbath, He went to the synagogue and began to teach, but He was only "the carpenter, the son of Mary” so most of the people were offended by it. Jesus left there saying, "No prophet is without honour except in his native place, among his own kindred, and in his own house." He felt that He had been dishonoured in the place and by the people that He knew best. What kind of reception would have pleased Him? What kind of honour does Christ want?

We think we would never make the same mistake as the people of Nazareth. We would never write Him off as a mere carpenter posing as a man of letters. This is because from our vantage point in history, we see Him as He really is, the Son of God, the Master Teacher, the Great Physician, and the Saviour of the world. If He came to our town, we would want to have a parade to celebrate the occasion, to dine with Him and to have the mayor present Him with a key to the city. Everybody who was anybody would wish to be there. We would not make the same mistake as Nazareth!

But is this the kind of honour that Jesus wants? Do you think, for a moment, that we could flatter Him? All of this would be nothing more than a reflection of our own littleness. It is little people who want and need extravagant praise. People who have depth of character and largeness of mind are never like that.

Walk with Jesus through the remainder of His ministry, and you will see how little He cared for flattery. A man knelt in His presence one day and said, "Good Teacher, what must I do to obtain eternal life?" Jesus answered, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone." On another occasion, He challenged people with these words, “You call me ‘Lord, Lord and never put into practice what I teach you?’” Jesus watched the scribes and Pharisees as they decorated the graves of the prophets, whom their fathers had killed. He saw that both of those activities, as different as they seemed, were essentially the same. If a prophet is alive, you kill him. After he is dead, you worship him. Either way you avoid the moral message that He proclaims.

The prophets of the Old Testament were immune to flattery, and they would not be worshipped. The one thing they wanted was that their message be heard and heeded. Jesus stands in the line of these great men; and He, even less than they, cannot be placated with flattery. The people of His hometown dishonoured Him with ridicule. We would never do that but we could dishonour Him with words of praise, unless we take His message seriously and apply it to our lives.

He would want to know how a father treats his children and how a husband treats his wife. He would be vitally interested in the poor of our community and what, if anything, we are doing to help them. He might ask us about the aged and how do we help to make their lives more bearable. He would, no doubt, want to know about our attitude toward people with disabilities. He might even visit our prisons, and ask us what plans we have for helping those people to get their lives back on track.

Holy Spirit, give me the wisdom to understand just how much Jesus believed in some things that He was willing to die for them, and to understand that the only kind of honour He wants is for us to hear His message, take it to heart and apply it to our lives.

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