Reading Reflections: Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time Year B

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Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
          His native place was his home village of Nazareth. It was the place he spent up to 30 years of his life. Everyone knew everyone. There may have been around 1500 people in the village around the time of Jesus.  His place of ministry was Capernaum.

When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.

It was the normal religious practice to go to the synagogue on the sabbath to praise the Lord, to hear readings from the Word of God, the Scriptures, to receive instructions on the readings and to offer their prayers of intercession. As a covenanted Jew, Jesus went to the synagogue every Sabbath as a child and as an adult. Even during his three years of public ministry, he went to the synagogue, even though he was the Son of God.

They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!

They have heard of his mighty deeds in other areas. They have heard that he was an anointed preacher and teacher from others. Now, they experience this latter personally. They are at first astonished, because only the rabbis were trained in the interpretation of the scriptures. Yet, he seems to understand and explain the scriptures with authority.  But as they taught among themselves, things changed.

Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

          There is no mention of Joseph in this passage. The presumption is that Joseph has died. They remember that he was a carpenter in the village, before he left and became a preacher and teacher. They knew him as the son of Mary, who still lived in the village, nothing more.

          Because we believe that Mary was a virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus, by God’s design, we know he did not have blood siblings. Two explanations have been given. One is that Joseph was married prior to Mary and had children from his first wife. The other is that in those times the words brother and sister were used in an extended way to include close cousins. 

          They take offense at him because they couldn’t accept that he was no longer the person they knew. He spoke words that challenged them and they didn’t want to hear.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

Jesus acknowledges that he is a prophet whose words are not received because they would not accept him as anything other than they remember him to be. They tried to control him and box him in to fit their expectations.

In Luke’s Gospel we are given what really infuriated the people against Jesus. He said to them: “Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land.  It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

          Without faith there is no relationship with Jesus. They could not put their trust in him and in his words. They had an encounter with Jesus, but their hearts remained basically closed. Only those who were so opened experienced the power of his saving mercy and healing love.

          How do we apply this to our lives? We have had many encounters with Jesus. What has been the result of each of those encounters? Has our faith increased? Is he more the Lord of our lives?


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