Jeremiah 26: 1-9
Matthew 13: 54-58
Usually when a person achieves celebrity he/she is welcomed back to his home town with a parade – but in Jesus’ case, that’s denied him. Not that he’s looking for accolades from his friends and neighbors – he’s looking for a faith response. But to no avail.
Ironically the people of his home town are perceptive enough to ask the right question: “Where did Jesus get all this wisdom and miraculous power?” But their familiarity with Jesus’ family and his roots blinds them to the deeper answer. They can’t get over the fact that he’s one of them – they saw him grow up – ‘Mary’s boy – the carpenter’s son’. They know all his relatives. With those humble origins, how can he teach them anything? How is he suddenly this learned rabbi?
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote: “To lift up hands in prayer gives God glory, but a man with a dung fork, a woman with a slop pail gives him glory too”. We give glory to God best when we integrate our worship with our daily life. Jesus himself glorified God when he worked alongside Joseph in the carpenter’s shop or when he helped Mary with the chores of the house. But when it came to preaching the kingdom to his neighbors, we see how from their point of view, familiarity bred contempt. He seemed so ordinary to them, that they couldn’t deal with him as a prophet or something greater than a prophet.
St Alphonsus Liguori, founder of the Redemptorists, was a brilliant theologian and scholar. Yet, it was said of him, he “never preached a sermon which the poorest old man in the congregation could not understand”. He glorified God with the gifts he was given. May we follow his example and give glory to God as best we can with the possibilities given to us this day.
- Fr. Damian Towey, CP is a member of the community at Our Lady of Florida Spiritual Center,North Palm Beach,Florida.