Fourteenth Sunday of Year B [Mk 6:1-
08 July 2018
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
Readings: (1) Ez 2:2-
1. Theme in brief
Rejection of a prophet
2. Focus Statement:
Just as the OT prophets and Jesus (the greatest NT Prophet) were rejected by their own people, so also those who do prophetic mission today are resisted and rejected by their own people because of prejudices, over-
3. Explanation of the text
Today’s gospel text tells us that Jesus went from Capernaum to his hometown, Nazareth. It was not a private visit to his family – since his disciples were also with him – but was for teaching in the synagogue (6:1-
Why did the people of Nazareth reject Jesus? The first reason was their over-
Secondly, from Jesus’ own words we come to know that he was rejected by his own people for hisprophetic role, just like the prophets of OT were often rejected. The real identity of Jesus – who he is – is an important issue in Mark’s gospel. Today’s text tells us that he was a prophet who was rejected in his own hometown for these reasons, by his own kin and house (6:4), but was accepted by outsiders. That is why he said that prophets are honoured better outside their hometown, and the circle of their own family or kith and kin (6:4). The OT prophets’ role of announcing God’s word and denouncing the evil ways of the people (including those in power) was disturbing to Israelites, especially its leaders. So also was Jesus’ prophetic role. That is why they might have taken "offence" at him (6:3, literally, were "stumbled" or "scandalized" by him). In other words, his unconventional behaviour must have scandalized them so much that he became a stumbling block in their sight.
Thirdly, the final reason of rejection was their unbelief or lack of faith in him (6:5-
4. Application to life
Today’s gospel is an example of prejudice of familiarity. We learn from it how narrow-
We are familiar with this saying, "Familiarity breeds contempt." I would rather say that over-
What happened to Jesus happens to us even today. It is not uncommon to notice some good and committed leaders, preachers and social reformers becoming unacceptable to their own people and unsuccessful among them; but getting acceptance from outsiders or strangers. Familiarity not only breeds contempt but also generates envy. It is not totally unusual to find our worst critics or opponents among our own family members, relatives and neighbours. We too are often critical towards those who are close to us. In family, workplace, office, committees, staff and neighbourhood, over-
Let us take the second theme of today: a prophet’s rejection. Who were the prophets? Prophets in the OT were messengers of God who spoke on his behalf. They were his spokespersons who proclaimed his word to the contemporary situation. Broadly speaking they had two contrasting roles: (1) announcing God’s word, interpreting his will, predicting the future in terms of the present situation and instilling hope and consolation in people; and (2) denouncing personal and social evil, social injustice and ungodly ways of the world. For this second role of warning people of the danger of evil ways they were called the watchmenof Israel. The main reason for Jesus’ rejection at Nazareth (his hometown) and later on totally on the cross was precisely this prophetic role of denunciation of evil, injustice and hypocrisy. .
All of us are called to be prophets by our baptism and must speak for God even if people refuse to listen. When we were baptized the minister anoints our forehead with the oil of ‘chrism’ to denote ourconsecration as prophets, priests and kings after the model of Christ. We exercise our prophetic call at various levels: (1) at the personal level when we guide, correct and admonish people; (2) at the level of the Church when we encourage other members, instil hope in them, purify the Church and warn her erring members; (3) at the level of society we do it when we stand for God’s values, oppose social evils, encourage, comfort, warn and admonish its rulers and leaders. Parents, teachers and local leaders also are called to exercise this prophetic role towards their children, students and subjects. Just as the OT prophets and Jesus were rejected by their own people, so also today’s prophets are rejected because their message often disturbs people. Our prophetic role may meet with resistance and opposition by those who refuse to change their ways – often in our own families and neighbourhood. If Jesus’ teaching met withcontempt from his own people, why should we expect something different? In spite of facing rejection by our own people, today’s gospel invites us to remain faithful to our mission. To be faithful to our prophetic mission, we must learn to live with and deal with rejection, criticism, opposition and frustration.
There is a tendency in us to give up our good work and prophetic role of counselling, guiding and giving fraternal corrections to others due to discouragement caused by the rejection of our message by those to whom it is addressed. Normally we close our eyes at the faults and wrongdoings of those who are close to us in families and religious communities for fear of reaction from their side and losing our good relationship with them. The best ‘virtue’ we practice is called ‘the culture of silence.’ This fear slackens our commitment to God’s cause. Whether people listen or not, we have to proclaim God’s truth. Sometimes when we consider our own weakness or frailty, we think we are unworthy to correct others. Some parents think: Who am I to tell children not to do a thing when I myself am doing it. Thus they fail in their God-
Taken in another sense, God continues to call us back to his path through his prophets. Parents, good friends, teachers, spouses, catechists, good leaders, priests and the religious are like prophets who often remind us to walk on God’s ways. They correct us and even warn us. We do not want to listen to them and reject them along with their message. Why? There could be several reasons: (1) We are prejudiced against them because of their profession, family background or past record. (2) We are so proud that we cannot see our faults and close our eyes on our faults/sins, that is, do not want to accept them. (3) We do not want to change, and want to maintain the status quo. (4) We are so greedy and pleasure-
Finally, miracles do not happen in the absence of faith. We are living in a Nazareth-
5. Response to God's Word
Are there symptoms of narrow-
6. A prayer
Jesus, you are the most amazing Prophet for all times. Continue to guide, encourage, comfort, warn and instil hope in us. Grant that we may be faithful to our baptismal call to be prophets who announce your word of comfort and denounce evil. Give us the strength to face criticism and rejection of a prophet. Amen.