Monday, July 6, 2015

Homily Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus visits his home town - Mark 6: 1-6

What a tragic loss for us!

One of the problems we have with reading the bible is it’s hard to get tone of voice and attitude. Today’s Gospel reading sounds like the people had some attitude:

  • “Where did this man get all this?" 
  • "What kind of wisdom has been given him?" 
  • "What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!" 
  • "Isn’t he a carpenter ... Mary’s kid?”

The people in Jesus’ home town just could not imagine Jesus was anything special. To them, Jesus was just another young man who grew up in Nazareth. He didn’t deserve their respect. They saw Him as a common man!  Their familiarity with him blinded them to who he really was. It’s very sad really. Jesus, the Christ, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, God himself was living in their village and they didn’t recognize him.

What a tragic loss for them!

But the truth is don’t you think the same tragically sad thing is happening again today.
We are living in Nazareth.                                                                                                                                            
We live in a Christian country where you can’t drive a few blocks in any city without seeing a church. Even the smallest towns in America have a church, or more likely several churches. Christianity is everywhere in America. Yet in America church attendance is dropping every year. We have become a lot like the people of Nazareth. We are so familiar with the things of God - the crucifixion of Jesus - the burial - the resurrection - that we are no longer moved by them. We are reminded of what Jesus did for us and we say: “So what?!” We talk about the cross and people say: “Oh Jesus, I know all about him. He’s no big deal." It’s very sad really. Jesus, the Christ, the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, God himself is living in our cities and towns and we don’t recognize him.

What a tragic loss for us!

Even we can be blind because of our familiarity - blinded by our image of Jesus. The same blindness, that prevented the people of Jesus hometown from seeing who he really was, often exists in us. We too can be blinded by our routine from seeing the power and the love that Jesus has to offer us. So many of us come to church, and in truth, we have little or no faith in the ability of Jesus to create miracles in our lives, to heal us, to forgive us. Like the people of Nazareth, we often lack faith in the power of Jesus to transform our lives for the better.  Like them, we think we know everything there is to know ABOUT Jesus; and yet, we don’t really KNOW Jesus on a personal level.

This Gospel passage can be a true gift to us. It can shake us out of our routine and challenge us to take a fresh look at Him, and then get to know him. This passage is a gift because it helps us to let go of the impressions we have of Jesus and really look at the person. Jesus was born and grew up in very normal and humble circumstances. Not by accident but by design.  This passage helps us see how normal Jesus’ life was; how much his life is like our own.                              

Many of us protest that we are just too ordinary to be holy; to be part of the mission of the Church. We think the mission of spreading the faith was given only to the priests and deacons. Our lives feel far from the extraordinary life of Jesus.  And so we speak of our lives as ... “just” ... this or that. I’m just a student.  I’m just a businessperson.  I’m just a mom ... just a nurse ... just a teacher ... just a soldier.  We forget that for most of his life Jesus was ... just ... a carpenter in a little nowhere town.  

What makes this Gospel passage such a gift to us is that we see that Jesus’ life growing up in Nazareth was so much like ours. It helps us to know him, really know him. And in knowing him, it can give our lives such meaning and worth - our ordinary times - our ordinary lives. Jesus lived a simple life and because of that he understands from first-hand experience our everyday life.

  •  He understands family life.
•  He understands hard work.  Carpentry in his day was seriously hard work.
•  Jesus understands human life — all the messy physical realities of being human.

We see today that there was a time when Jesus was as ordinary as any one of us. And God used his time in Nazareth to fashion and mold and form him into the instrument God needed, and would use, to save the world.

This passage can help us see that God uses the ordinariness of our lives to fashion and mold and form us into the instruments God needs, and will use, to continue to save the world.

We learn today that Jesus is ... like us!  And we are called to be ... like Jesus! 

People all around us are looking for something to give them hope but they cannot quite put their fingers on what that might be. And maybe that’s because Jesus is just too familiar to them.  They don’t see his power and how he can give meaning and purpose to their lives. Unless we tell them!

The question this passage should make us all ask ourselves is:

How is God fashioning me in my ordinary life to serve, to save, to heal?

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