In the Gospel this week we see Jesus in the synagogue in his home town. His people will not accept him. “This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary,” and they know his family. We might feel outraged by this. I think that the problem for them is that their familiarity with Jesus and his family stands in the way of hearing Jesus’s words. When we hear a talk by someone we do not know personally- maybe we have never even heard of them before – we tend to listen carefully, at least if they are interesting speakers! However, if we know someone well, anything they have to say which is challenging or “prophetic” seems difficult to hear. We tend to be much more interested in their personal lives, what they have been doing.
This incomprehension leads to Jesus saying “A prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house”. Mark adds that Jesus “could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them”. We might be troubled that Jesus could work no miracle there, until we reflect that a miracle is a work of love and we need to be open to Jesus’s love and power in order for his grace to effective in us. We do not need to “know it all”, we just need to ask for greater faith and recognize that we need help from God. This was exactly what the people in Jesus’s home town were not prepared to do.
However we are told that Jesus cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them, an act which did not require much dialogue. Jesus still reached out to them in love – he is reaching out to us today.
Finally we are told that Jesus was “amazed” at their lack of faith. This is not so much about Jesus being surprised. Rather, their “amazement” means that Jesus is greatly saddened by the gulf between the people with lack of faith and himself. This gap is cause by those with lack of faith – could it be us? Jesus wants to reach out to us so we must see our need and reach out to him because true life in Christ comes from responding to Jesus.