Fr Paul MaloneyDear Fellow Parishioners,

There is a lot that we can learn from today’s gospel. Jesus comes back to Nazareth where he had spent the first thirty or so years of his life. He had been away only a short time and news had filtered back that people were looking on him as a prophet. He already had a reputation for healing and for speaking words that drew people into communion with God. This astonished them, for he had seemed so ordinary during all those years. His mother was still living in the village, as were members of his extended family. Joseph had come to Nazareth when Jesus was a child. There was plenty of work for a carpenter, as Herod was building his headquarters at Sepphoris, a walk of only three or four kilometres from Nazareth. Jesus has continued in his father’s trade. When Jesus addressed the people of the village in the synagogue, they were impressed by his wisdom, but they could not bring themselves to believe that the local carpenter could be a prophet. During his stay, Jesus did heal a few sick people, but Mark tells us that he was not able to work any miracles there. In other words nothing he said or did was accepted as a revelation of God. Their lack of faith amazed him.

In the light of the gospel, we might ask ourselves two questions. Firstly, why do we fail to see the goodness of God in others? Why do we deny that such a possibility could possibly exist in this person?  And secondly, how should we react when others fail to recognise goodness in us, humiliate us, judge us harshly, and refuse to accept the love we want to offer them?  If others humiliate us, then, hurtful as it is, we have to realise that is their problem. Jesus teaches us not to retaliate by treating them in the same way. On the contrary, he teaches us to forgive them and to have compassion on them, for ‘they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).

Today’s gospel teaches us two things. When we look at the people of Nazareth we see the folly of human pride, and the stupidity and blindness of looking down on ordinary people for their faults and weaknesses, and of showing off by criticising them and putting them down. When we look at Jesus we learn how to respond when others humiliate us. We will be sad as he was, and we may even, like him, be amazed at their lack of faith, but we will not add to the hurt. May our words and actions continue, like his, to bring healing.