by Fr. Tommy Lane
Jesus was not able to work any miracle in Nazareth because of their lack of faith, Mark tells us in his Gospel today (Mark 6:1-6). How shocking! Of course Jesus could perform mighty miracles in Nazareth but did not do so because they did not have faith in him. Jesus does not force his way into our lives. He would love to be part of our lives and part of the lives of everyone, but we can choose. Unfortunately the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus. God has given us a choice and God respects the freedom he has given us to allow him into our lives or not. Of course if anyone were to reject God and keep God out, I believe life for such a person could not go as well or be as happy. We are meant for God and only with God can we become who we are really meant to be.
Unfortunately this rejection of Jesus in Nazareth is nothing new. We see rejection of God also in our first reading today ()Ezek 2:2-5. God called the prophet Ezekiel to preach to his own people but God also forewarned him that his preaching would be rejected. The Lord called them “rebels who have rebelled against me” (Ezek 2:3). In fact, looking at the prophets we see that from our human point of view only one or two of them were successful in that the people paid heed to them but for all the others they experienced what we would call failure from our human point of view because most of the people did not listen to them. Of course the prophets did not really fail. God called them to preach whether or not people listened and they did preach and in that sense they were successful regardless of how people responded.
Rejection of God begins with Eve believing the serpent instead of God which meant death entered into humanity. Sin increased all the time afterwards until the time of the Flood when there was only one good family, the family of Noah. Even after the miracle of Exodus when the Hebrews came out of slavery where previously there had been water, they complained about God afterwards. Rejection of God is not at all uncommon through the Old Testament. It continues in the New Testament with the people of Nazareth rejecting Jesus in the Gospel today but even before this the Jewish leaders rejected Jesus and also his own extended family rejected him a few chapters earlier (Mark 3:21). His extended family are his cousins who are mentioned in the Gospel today; James and Joses and Jude and Simon. In the Semitic world of that time it was common practice to call your cousins your brothers and sisters. Even uncles and nephews could be known as brothers (Gen 13:8; 14:14). From the earliest years we have believed Our Lady was Ever-Virgin.
As we see the people of Nazareth rejecting Jesus in the Gospel today, and that they were totally convinced in their own minds that they were right, it is a little frightening. Someone could reject God in some way and be totally convinced while making a big mistake like the people of Nazareth. The rejection of Jesus by the people of Nazareth makes us ask ourselves some questions. God forbid that there should be any part of our lives where the light of Christ does not shine. God forbid that there is ever any part of our lives that we close off from Christ. God forbid that there is ever any corner of our lives that we try to hide from God. If there were, we could never hope to be fully happy. It is only when we give ourselves completely to God, every corner of our lives, that we can hope to be filled completely with God’s happiness.
The most important reason why we want to give ourselves completely to God is not so that we can be completely happy but that we may be pleasing to Jesus and give greater glory to God. You can hear the disappointment in Jesus’ voice today as he says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4) Jesus died for us and wants us to live with him now, not only after we die. He desires our total friendship now, not only in the future. As Jesus was dying on the cross, he said, “I thirst.” (John 19:28) Of course Jesus was dehydrated after having lost so much blood but above all Jesus was thirsting for us, for our love, thirsting for us to love him in return for his love for us unto death. St. Teresa of Calcutta instructed that the words “I thirst” be placed beside the crucifix in every one her convents to remind the Sisters of Jesus thirsting for their love. Jesus thirsting on the cross for our love is not the only time we see his desire for our total self-giving to him. Earlier in Gethsemane he said to the apostles, “Remain here and keep watch with me.” (Matt 26 36) He wanted their company and he wants our company. In the last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, Jesus says to one of the churches in Asia, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20) During the last century, St. Faustina in Poland received beautiful revelations from Jesus about his mercy and some of them also reveal to us Jesus’ desire for us to give ourselves to him without reserve. Jesus gave St. Faustina an intention for which to pray on each day of the Novena to Divine Mercy. For third day of the novena Jesus said,
Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls, and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness.
For the last day of the novena Jesus said to pray for the lukewarm and indifferent,
These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy.
Jesus is thirsting for us. May we always remain with him and keep watch with him so that unlike what happened at Nazareth he may work miracles in our lives and enter our homes and hearts to dine with us.
© Fr. Tommy Lane 2018
More Homilies for the Fourteenth Sunday Year B
Related Homilies: Second Reading Carrying Our Cross after Jesus
Gospel: Commentary The Brothers and Sisters of Jesus