The rejection at Nazareth

Published July 4, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Manila Bulletin


MARK 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor 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.

Signs of God’s presence

What is it that amazes or astonishes us these days? The Facebook flexes have many to show: a small snake devouring a whole, huge animal, or a man crossing the English channel with his flying boardwalk—signs of humans and animals doing what seems to defy the natural laws.

In the First Reading, the Israelites are stirred when God sends them a prophet who tells them that they are a rebellious house. Ezekiel’s presence makes them realize that God does not tire of calling people to return to him, even if they are deserving of punishment. But even as we continue to feel God’s presence, there are moments in our response to him when we feel our inadequacies or we get down and get discouraged. In the Second Reading, Paul shares that there is always that signal, a reassuring or a jolting one, as he becomes aware of his weakness, of his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7). This reminds us of our dependence on God who always gives us sufficient grace to bear the hardships of life for the sake of Christ.

The Gospel presents Jesus as a living sign of God as he preaches, teaches, and heals the people. But what is the reaction he gets from his townsmen in Nazareth? They are amazed and cannot bring themselves to believe that one of their countrymen can do wonders. But Jesus, too, is amazed at their unbelief, so as to mutter out, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” His astonishment leads him to go around to the villages in the vicinity teaching, while not performing any miracle in his own town apart from curing a few sick people.

How insensitive could we be sometimes! God sends messengers, angels in human form, to make us feel his loving presence, but we make no cognizance of it because we want to pursue our own agenda. This is also true of the history of salvation. Prophets, seers, righteous kings, and leaders were sent by God, but people just ignored the messengers. This even happened to Jesus, who nonetheless pursued his mission, curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. Little seeds of grace and faith-filled moments show that there is hope for his “astonished” countrymen.

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2021,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail: [email protected]; Website: