More Than a Carpenter's Son: Jesus' Identity and Rejection

Today's Gospel Reading from the Revised Common Lectionary is Mark 6:1-13, which includes the passage: "Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house."


What comes to mind when someone mentions your hometown? Is it the sight of your mother’s thriving vegetable garden or your father’s cluttered shed overflowing with pipes and pieces of timber? Perhaps it evokes memories of playing soccer with your younger brother or walking to the corner store with your best friend, a handful of coins in hand when a Cadbury chocolate bar use to be 50 cents prior to Shrinkflation (and btw, the Crunchie Bar is the best candy ever, just ask the Vicar of Dibley!)  Maybe it's the image of your family gathered on the creaky porch for a Sunday roast, the distinct sound of your father’s piano keys, or the smells of your mother’s recipes drifting from the stove. Do you remember the intense heat of summer or the times you avoided the surf in winter?

A hometown can evoke feelings of comfort and security. The familiarity of well-traveled streets, encountering acquaintances at local spots who remember you or your family's past, can bring a deep sense of warmth.

Yet, hometowns can also stir painful memories. They may resurrect old traumas, reminding us of times when we felt rejected for our beliefs, creed, sexuality, gender identity, race, or ostracised for who we are or whom we love.

Hometowns hold a complexity of memories and emotions. Over time, they accumulate profound significance, becoming places of both life-giving joy and heart-wrenching challenges. In today's Gospel from Mark, Jesus returns to his own hometown with his disciples. Despite nostalgic recollections of growing up there, he encounters significant resistance.

While the Gospels offer little about Jesus' upbringing, we can imagine a devout Jewish upbringing under Mary and Joseph's guidance, marked by Jesus' early questioning at the synagogue. Nearly two decades later, Jesus embarks on his ministry, traversing Galilee, teaching, healing, and challenging established norms about God's kingdom and his own identity.

Returning to Nazareth, Jesus faces skepticism and lack of faith from his own community. They struggle to reconcile the Jesus they knew with the prophet he has become. Prophets, after all, challenge comfort and tradition, calling people to a deeper understanding of God's will.

Having recently relocated to Melbourne, today's gospel deeply resonates with me as I contemplate the reasons behind leaving the familiar comforts and memories of my hometown. Like Jesus, I carry within me both cherished moments and painful memories. Perhaps this is why I sensed a calling to this new place — to embark on a new chapter of ministry. Much like the disciples who navigated stormy seas, I see this move as reaching towards a new shore, where my abilities can be used to serve others. Just as the boat sails to new destinations, I hold onto hope that Melbourne will become a place of growth, transformation, and healing for both myself and those I am called to minister to.

Our hometowns mirror the human experience—a blend of familiar routines and spaces where we feel safe from discomfort or challenge. Often, we resist allowing Jesus to disrupt these areas, fearing the disruption of our secure lives, much like Jesus encountering doubt in Nazareth. Just as bees laboriously build honeycomb, symbolizing both the sweetness and challenges of community life, Jesus' message of love and inclusion calls us to diligently cultivate understanding and empathy. This means embracing new ideas and perspectives, even amidst resistance, to foster a community that warmly welcomes everyone. Allowing Jesus' prophetic presence to challenge us can expand our capacity for love and empathy, breaking down barriers and opening our hearts to those society often marginalizes.

What would it mean for us to let Jesus disrupt our lives today? It requires courage to examine entrenched norms and embrace transformative hope. Opening ourselves to Jesus' prophetic voice can lead to profound spiritual growth and communal renewal. May we be open to such disruption, trusting in God's transformative power. Amen.

Photo: letterpile.com & cadbury.com.au

More Than a Carpenter's Son: Jesus' Identity and Rejection More Than a Carpenter's Son: Jesus' Identity and Rejection Reviewed by Shane St Reynolds on July 07, 2024 Rating: 5

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