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Reflections by Fr Anthony Crook RAN | Friday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time

 

Link to today’s readings: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/073021.cfm

 Today’s Reading from the Gospel of Matthew (13:53-58) has a close parallel in Mark’s Gospel (Mk 6:1-6a). Each locate the narrative in the synagogue of Jesus ‘hometown’. In each people were ‘astounded’ by his ‘wisdom’ and ‘deeds of power’. In each account the people of Jesus’ hometown ‘took offense at him’. This offense seems to find it origins in their inability to accept that someone known to them, someone whose family and childhood they were familiar with, could the source of such wisdom and power.[1] In Matthew’s account (v. 55) it is asked “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary?”, whereas in Mark (v. 3) they ask “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” The Markan question has a strong element of insult in it, as it would have been more usual to refer to someone by reference to their father rather than mother, and so it seems that Matthew softens the question somewhat.

In both accounts Jesus either ‘did not do many deeds of power’ (Mt 13:58) or ‘could do no deed of power’ (Mk 6:5), and responds with the line: “Prophets are not without honor, except in their country and in their own house” (Mt 13:57) or “Prophets are not without honor except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house” (Mk 6:4). The people’s lack of belief serves as a barrier to the great inbreaking of the reign of God in that place, at that time.

Luke’s Gospel (Lk 4:16-30) has a more developed recount of this incident. His account too takes place in the synagogue of Jesus’ hometown (Nazareth [Lk 4:16]), and in this case the community are ‘astonished’ by the words of grace that came from his lips’ (Lk 16:22). As with Matthew and Mark the locals question how this can be when they ask: “Is this not the son of Joseph?” (Lk 4:23). Luke includes in his narrative, Jesus outlining his saving mission (“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor…to proclaim a year of the Lord’s favour” [Lk 4:15]), and also quite a robust rebuttal by him (Jesus) to the doubt expressed by the community. The synagogue community in response are ‘enraged’, and hustle Jesus to a hill, where they intend to throw him off!!

There are many lines of reflection we might be taken along by today’s Gospel, may I offer just one. That unlike the people of Jesus’ hometown, may we not be blinded to, but rather always open to, the presence of the Divine in the familiar and the everyday.

[1] For us who know the end of the story, our amazement at their offense possibly holds the question: “But couldn’t you see or feel God’s great presence in this moment?”