Wednesday, January 31, 2018
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
help us to love You with all our hearts
and to love all people as You love them.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - 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 Joseph 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.
• The Gospel today speaks of the visit of Jesus to Nazareth and describes the obstinacy of the people of Nazareth who do not want to accept Him. (Mk 6:1-6). Tomorrow the Gospel describes the openness of Jesus toward the people of Galilee, shown through the sending out of His disciples on mission (Mk 6:7-13).
• Mark 6:1-2a: Jesus returns to Nazareth. At that time Jesus went to His home town, and His disciples accompanied Him. “With the coming of the Sabbath, He began teaching in the synagogue”. It is always good to return to one’s home town and to reunite with friends. After a long absence, Jesus also returns, and as usual, on Saturday, He goes to the synagogue to participate in the meeting of the community. Jesus was not the coordinator of the community, but even though He was not, He takes the floor and begins to teach. This is a sign that people could participate and express their own opinion.
• Mark 6:2b-3: Reaction of the people of Nazareth before Jesus. The people of Capernaum had accepted the teaching of Jesus (Mk 1: 22), but the people of Nazareth did not like the words of Jesus and were scandalized. For what reason? Jesus, the boy whom they had known since He was born, how is it that now He is so different? They do not accept God’s mystery present in Jesus, a human being and common as they are and known by all! They think that to be able to speak of God, He should be different from them! As we can see, not everything went well for Jesus. The people who should have been the first ones to accept the Good News were precisely those who had the greatest difficulty accepting it. The conflict was not only with foreigners, but especially with His relatives and with the people of Nazareth. They refused to believe in Jesus, because they could not understand the mystery of God embracing the person of Jesus. “From where do all these things come to Him? And what wisdom is this which has been given to Him? And these miracles which are worked by Him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses and Jude and Simon? His sisters too, are they not here with us?” And they would not accept Him. They do not believe in Jesus!
• The brothers and the sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers of Jesus” causes polemics among Catholics and Protestants. Based on this text and on others, the Protestants say that Jesus had more brothers and sisters and that Mary had more sons! The Catholics say that Mary had no other sons. What should we think about all this? In the first place, the two positions, that of Catholics and that of the Protestants, both have arguments taken from the Bible and from the tradition of their respective communities. Therefore, it is not proper to discuss this question with arguments drawn only from reason. This is a question of profound convictions, which have something to do with the faith sentiments both of Catholics and Protestants. An argument taken only from reason cannot succeed in changing the conviction of the heart! On the contrary, it irritates and draws others away! Even when I do not agree with the opinion of another, I should always respect it! We, both Catholics and Protestants, instead of discussing texts, should unite to struggle in defense of life, created by God, a life which has been so disfigured by poverty and injustice, by the lack of faith. We should remember other phrases of Jesus: “I have come in order that they may have life and life in abundance” (Jn 10:10). “That all may be one, so that the world may believe that You, Father, have sent Me” (Jn 17:21). “Who is not against us is for us” (Mk 10:39-40).
• Mark 6: 4-6. Jesus’ reaction before the attitude of the people of Nazareth. Jesus knows very well that “nobody is a prophet in his own country”. He says, “A prophet is despised only in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house”. In fact, where there is no acceptance or faith, people can do nothing. The preconception prevents this. Even if Jesus wanted to do something, He cannot, and He is amazed at their lack of faith. For this reason, before the closed door of His community “He began to make a tour around the villages, teaching”. The experience of this rejection led Jesus to change His practice. He goes to the other villages and, as we shall see in tomorrow’s Gospel, He gets the disciples involved in the mission instructing them on how they have to continue the mission.
4) Personal questions
• Jesus had problems with His relatives and with His community. From the time when you began to live the Gospel better, has something changed in your relationship with your family and with your relatives?
• Jesus cannot work many miracles in Nazareth because faith is lacking. Today, does He find faith in us, in me?
• Does the debate over Mary and Jesus' brothers and sisters precipitate a change in our behavior or how we put faith into action? Should this change how we treat the poor and marginalized?
5) Concluding prayer
How blessed are those whose offense is forgiven,
whose sin blotted out.
How blessed are those to whom Yahweh imputes no guilt,
whose spirit harbors no deceit. (Ps 32:1-2)