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Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Mk 6:1-6

Most of us like to go home, especially when we have been away for a long time. We look forward to being hugged and greeted by family and friends.

It seems reasonable to assume that Jesus had a similar feeling when He returned to His home town of Nazareth. For nearly 30 years He had called that place home. There He spent his childhood, learned the skill of carpentry and grew to manhood. It was then that His ministry called Him away. By our standards He did not go very far from His native town, but if He travelled to the capital Jerusalem it meant undertaking a four day journey on foot, walking 20 miles a day. He could not go back very often. Time and distance would not permit it.

Today’s Gospel tells of His return to Nazareth. I should think He went with eager anticipation, but that visit proved to be one of the most disappointing experiences of His life. It was the Sabbath day and as was His custom He went to the synagogue and began to teach. The crowd were somewhat impressed with the things He had to say, but they could not get over the fact that He was once a local Boy. To them He was just a carpenter, the Son of Mary, and because they know His beginnings they would not accept Him. Jesus left them saying, “A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house.” His hometown and His own people had dishonoured Him.

Do we think that we would have given Him a better reception? Surely we would not dishonour Him and write Him off as a mere carpenter posing as a man of letters? From our vantage point in history, we can see Him as He really is, the Son of God and Saviour of the world. If He came to our town we would celebrate the occasion. We would try to make sure that the whole town turned out to greet Him, showing Him our Church where we love and worship Him. We would show Him the pictures painted about Himself in the local art gallery and arrange for the best choir to sing about Him and for Him. We would not make the same mistake as did the people of Nazareth.

But do we really believe that this is the kind of honour that Jesus would want? Do we think that Jesus would want all this fuss? If we walked with Him in His public ministry we would see that He did not like to be flattered. A man knelt before Him and said, “Good Master, what must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but God alone.”

All Jesus would want is our love. He would like to see how much we appreciated the Mass and how fervent and frequent is our reception of the Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

He would be much more interested in our personal lives and the quality of our relationships. He would want to see couples married to each other and not living in sin. He would want to see homosexuals and lesbians respecting themselves and not being actively involved with each other. He would want to know how a father treats his children and how a husband and wife treat each other. He would be interested in the poor of the community and what, if anything, we are doing to make their lives more bearable. He would want to know our attitude to people of different races and how we treat them. If there were a hospital in the area He would want to visit the sick and see what He could do for them. If there were a jail too He would want to visit that and see what help they were being given to get their lives back on track.

These are some of the ways in which Jesus behaved to show us what He believed - and He was prepared to die for these beliefs. He would not want the ‘frills and show’ that the so-called great people expect and demand. The only kind of honour He would want is for us to hear His message, take it to heart and apply it to our lives. Then He would be able to say, ‘When you do these things, My people, then I shall know that You treat me as your Prophet.’

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