This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news
New English Translation (NET)
Rejection at Nazareth
53 Now when Jesus finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Then he came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers? 55 Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother named Mary? And aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? 56 And aren’t all his sisters here with us? Where did he get all this?” 57 And so they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his hometown and in his own house.” 58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.
Here is an illustration of a degraded notion of equality: we may not want people who are”beneath us” to be raIsed up, but we sure as hell don’t want any of our own equals to be “above us,” and we’ll try to bring them down to our level. In Scotland we used to say “We kent his faither.” For Matthew, this unpleasant human trait is linked to the mystery of Jesus mission. If he had assumed messianic power and dignity, they might well have honoured him; but because he comes quietly, they won’t accept the prophetic gifts he offers. How can such an ordinary fellow come from God? Surely he’s just a charlatan! It is the humility of God’s revelation in his human son that “offends” them. This word is almost a technical term in Matthew for a stubborn rejection of God’s goodness.
Human beings would like to make God in their own image as a supremely powerful monarch or superman. Instead God insists on making human beings in his own image and likeness which he reveals in his human son, Jesus of Nazareth.
And indeed he does belong to Nazareth, and is part of a human family, with a real mother who has other real children, who are Jesus’ real brothers and sisters. Whatever is the meaning of the virginal conception of Jesus, it must not be used to detract from his humanity, nor from the goodness of human sexuality, as the doctrine of the “perpetual virginity of Mary” tends to do. This passage insists on the humanity of Jesus precisely by placing him in a particular community and family. Like other human beings he is limited by the expectations of others: he did few miracles there. Mark’s version of this story (Mark 6) goes even further by saying “he was not able” to do many miracles in Nazareth. The ministry of Jesus is fashioned by the way people respond to him. Is that the right way for a proper Messiah to behave?
It does seem a daft way for God to act. Paul calls it, “the foolishness and the weakness of God” adding that God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness stronger than human strength. It will always offend our pride.