Lectio Divina: Matthew 13:54-58
1) Opening prayer
God our Father and protector,
without You nothing is holy,
nothing has value.
Guide us to everlasting life
by helping us to use wisely
the blessings You have given to the world.
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 - Matthew 13:54-58
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.
• The Gospel today tells us of Jesus’ visit to Nazareth, His native community. Passing through Nazareth was painful for Jesus. What was His community at the beginning, now is no longer so. Something has changed. Where there is no faith, Jesus can work no miracles.
• Matthew 13: 53-57ª: The reaction of the people of Nazareth before Jesus. It is always good for people to go back to their land. After a long absence, Jesus also returns, as usual, on a Saturday, and He goes to the meeting of the community. Jesus was not the head of the group, but just the same, He speaks. This is a sign that people could participate and express their own opinion. People were astonished. They did not understand Jesus’ attitude: "Where did the man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” Jesus, son of that place, whom they knew since He was a child, how is it that now He is so different? The people of Nazareth are scandalized and do not accept Him: “This is the carpenter’s son, surely?” The people do not accept the mystery of God present in a common man, as they are, and as they had known Jesus. In order to speak about God He should be different. As one can see, not everything was positive. The people, who should have been the first ones to accept the Good News, are the first ones to refuse it. The conflict is not only with foreigners, but also with His relatives and with the people of Nazareth. They do not accept because they cannot understand the mystery which envelops Jesus: “Is not His mother, the woman called Mary, and His brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude, and His sisters too, are they not all here with us? So where did the man get it all?” They are not able to believe.
• Matthew 13:57b-58: Jesus’ reaction before the attitude of the people of Nazareth. Jesus knows very well that “no one is a prophet in his own country.” He says, “A prophet is despised only in his own country and in his own house.” In fact, where there is neither acceptance nor faith, people can do nothing. Prejudice prevents it. Jesus Himself, even wanting, can do nothing. He was astonished at their lack of faith.
• The brothers and sisters of Jesus. The expression “brothers of Jesus” causes much division between Catholics and Protestants. Based on this and other texts, the Protestants say that Jesus had many brothers and sisters and that Mary had more children! Catholics say that Mary did not have any other children. What are we to think of this? Both positions, that of Catholics as well as that of Protestants, contain arguments taken from the Bible and from the tradition of their respective Churches. We should consider that in our communities today we also call each other “brother” and “sister”, yet we don’t share immediate parents. In that day, children didn’t move far from their parents like they might do today, so many extended family relationships existed within the same community. For this reason, it is not helpful to discuss this question with arguments which are only intellectual, because it is a question of profound convictions, which have something to do with faith and with the sentiments of each one. An argument which is merely intellectual cannot change a conviction of the heart! It only irritates and repels! Even if I do not agree with the opinion of others, I have to respect it. In the second place, instead of talking about texts, all of us, Catholics and Protestants, should unite in order to fight for the defense of life, created by God, a life disfigured by poverty, injustice, lack of faith. We should recall some other sayings of Jesus: “I have come so that they may have life and life to the full” (Jn 10:10); “That all may be one, so that the world may believe that You, Father, have sent Me” (Jn 17:21); “Do not prevent them! Anyone who is not against us is for us” (Mk 10:39,40).
4) Personal questions
• In Jesus something changed in His relationship with the community of Nazareth. Since you began to participate in community, has anything changed in your relationship with your family? Why?
• Has participation in the community helped you to accept and to trust people, especially the more simple and the poorest?
• When two join to form a new community in marriage, their relationship with their families also changes. Reconsider the previous questions in light of this as well.
5) Concluding Prayer
For myself, wounded wretch that I am,
by Your saving power raise me up!
I will praise God’s name in song,
I will extol Him by thanksgiving. (Ps 69: 29-30)