We are all Nazoreans – Mk 6:1-6

nazareth
-modern day Nazareth, Israel

We shouldn’t judge the Nazoreans too harshly.  If God appeared to us in disguise, would we see Him?  Even the disguise of bread and wine?  Would we?  Really?  You’re that sure of yourself?  I’m not.

“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and His hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.” -Bl Teresa of Calcutta, MC

megantwomey
-by Megan Twomey

“A priest, in his homily recently, reminded his congregation that we are all called to be prophets and evangelize to those around us and that we are not to be surprised when those around us reject us. As I listened to the priest, however, I found that I often identify not with Christ, but with the incredulous people of Nazareth. I began to wonder how often I had rejected a message from God or shut myself off from His miracles, because I was too snobbish to believe that God could work through the people around me.

The people of Nazareth were incredibly blessed among the towns of history, for they had the sole privilege of witnessing God grow up. In their simple town, the Blessed Mother and her spouse, the ever-steadfast St. Joseph, raised the Son of God. Nazareth sheltered the family from whom the Savior of the world came, and yet, they did not recognize Him. They saw only what they wanted to see: a local boy, someone “just like us”; they missed their opportunity for Christ to do what could have been His greatest miracles. They refused to believe that God could be fulfilling His promise of salvation through, in their minds, an ordinary man.

There are dozens of reasons they could have felt that way. Perhaps they did not like Christ’s message of repentance. They could have thought themselves too humble to be noticed by God, or, conversely, too proud to need help from a neighbor. It must have been hard to wrap their heads around the fact that the Messiah had been under their noses the whole time. Whether they had imagined a charismatic stranger, a solider, or a wealthy king, I doubt they saw the Anointed One as a young man with whom they had shared a village, a synagogue, and maybe a family tree.

Yet no matter the reason, be it prejudice or pride, self-abasement or self-righteousness, the people of Nazareth heard the truth and were unable to believe it. They witnessed the Son of God in their midst and saw only the son of a local carpenter. Their clouded vision cost them the chance for great miracles, miracles Jesus clearly wanted to perform. They had the opportunity to fall down at the feet of Christ, and claim, along with their unworthiness, their gratitude for what God was working in front of their very eyes. Instead, they watched the chosen one of Israel walk away and shake His head at their unbelief.

How many times have I unknowingly caused the Savior of the world to shake His head at my own doubt? I can be so blind to what the Holy Spirit is working in my life because I only see what I want to see. I must miss miracles all the time because I cannot believe I am worthy of them or that they could happen here. My ears are so often closed to the truth because of the person who has spoken it. We are so familiar with those around us that we can miss how God uses them as agents of change and messengers of repentance.

As the village of Nazareth demonstrated, the people of Israel had a habit of missing out on the prophecies of God and mistreating his prophets. God reached out to them again and again, but their hearts were hard, their ears were deaf, and their eyes were blind. And still we continue not to learn from their stories. The Holy Spirit still speaks to us: through the Church, through the Scriptures, and through the people around us. We must not let our ideas of what we want God to say and of what His messengers ought to look like cost us our ability to hear.

We walk in a landscape of prophets, angels, and miracles, if our eyes and ears will only be open. As the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning once said: ““Earth’s crammed with heaven/And every common bush afire with God, /But only he who sees takes off his shoes; /The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” God has not stopped speaking and He has not stopped working miracles. Let us not stop listening and looking. If we allow those around us to scandalize us when they speak truth and when we see our town and our time and ourselves as unworthy of miracles, we miss more than a message, we miss Christ.”

Love & blessing,
Matthew

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