Wednesday of Week 4 of Ordinary Time – Gospel

Commentary on Mark 6:1-6

Jesus returns to his home town in the company of his disciples. On the sabbath day, as was his right, he began teaching in the synagogue. His listeners, who all knew him since he was a child, are staggered at the way he speaks.

Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands!

He had no more education than any of his fellow-villagers. But the point is that they do recognise his wisdom and his power to perform miracles. Yet, he is ‘only’ a carpenter, the son of Mary and related to James and Joset and Jude and Simon and with “sisters” as well.

And, because they knew him so well, they could not accept him. They deliberately chose not to see what was happening before their very eyes. This, of course, is the irony of the whole situation – they did not know him at all. They were blinded by a superficial familiarity. So Jesus says,

Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown and among their own kin and in their own house.

This is a saying known in other cultures and an experience all too often repeated in our own day. In comparing himself to the Hebrew prophets who went before him, Jesus foreshadows his ultimate rejection by many of his own people. We have already seen his problems with his own family, and now with his townspeople. It is not the end.

The trap of familiarity is one we can all fall into very easily. How many times have we failed to recognise the voice of Jesus speaking to us because the person is someone we meet every day, a person we may not like or may even despise? But God can and does talk to us through all kinds of people, Catholic or not, relative, friend, colleague, our own children, total stranger, educated, uneducated…

As a result, we are told, Jesus not only did not, and could not work any miracles there, except for a few sick people who were cured by the laying on of hands. But he could not help those who had no faith in him. Jesus works only when we cooperate and open ourselves to him. Mark often says how amazed the people are at Jesus’ teaching. Sadly, now it is Jesus’ turn to be amazed at his home town’s lack of faith and trust in him.

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