Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Archbishop Cassidy (RIP 2013) wrote about a diocesan trip to the Holy Land. He reflects, “If you were to ask me about the moment I found most moving, I'd have to say it was on the first night as we were travelling from Tel Aviv airport to Jerusalem. It was dark. We could see the lights of the city on the distant hills, and when the bus driver said, 'we are making the climb now up towards Jerusalem,' I felt very moved, not just because this was the city where Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead, but above everything else, because this was the city where Jesus was rejected. He was very upset by that rejection. And what he said at the time, in his loneliness and hurt, came flooding into my consciousness: 'Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you refused!' (Mt 23:37). The pain of rejection is a very bitter pain indeed. To be rejected by a friend or by a girlfriend or boyfriend whom we love very much or to be rejected by a partner in marriage is a very bitter experience indeed. For the saviour of the world, to be rejected in the Holy City, the capital city of his own country, was something that cut him to the quick.
But if our Lord found Jerusalem's rejection hard, he must have found I much harder in his home village of Nazareth. The homemade dagger always has a longer blade. That it cut deeply into Our Lord and wounded him to the heart, there can be no doubt. 'A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house' (Mk 6:4). Jesus, who ought to have known them well was really taken aback by the extent of their begrudgery. The final comment in today's Gospel is: 'He was amazed at lack of faith' (Mk 6:6).
And we'll think to ourselves — wasn't it a pity that the people of Jerusalem rejected him and even the people of his own village? You wouldn’t think that was possible or maybe you’re thinking how stupid they were to have done that. But let's consider our own position for a moment! Jesus’ message has been circulating amongst us for 1,500 years. Yet there are still some of us who can't or won't accept him. And there are people in our own neighbourhoods — excellent people many of them — who seem to be genuinely persuaded that to cast off the Christian inheritance is an exercise in emancipation.
Today's Gospel reminds us that, whatever else it is, rejection of Christ's claim to be the prophet or Messiah is certainly not new. And it's also telling us that, despite our own inadequacies, if we do accept Christ and his claims and try to respond to the implications of that acceptance, we're moving in the right direction. So, let's renew our commitment to him in this Eucharist. Let's pray for a deeper faith and a more generous discipleship. Lord may we never reject you! Increase our faith!
Archbishop Joseph Cassidy