He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. 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! 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. 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.” 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. ( Mark 6:1-6)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to his people and teaches in their synagogue, but he is rejected by them.
It doesn’t seem to be because of his words that Jesus is rejected. The people who reject him do not even discuss what he has taught them. Maybe it was out of social snobbery, or maybe it was out of the petty jealousy that Jesus was one of them but he is able to teach with an authority that they could not hope to possess?
No matter what wonderful teaching Jesus gave, no matter what great works he performed, there were some people who were pretty much going to reject him anyway. Jesus departed “amazed at their lack of faith.”
This rejection of Jesus in Nazareth points to a truth in our lives: sometimes it is the people who are closest to us who do not understand us and will not support us. How painful it is to have our gifts and talents accepted by many, but not accepted by those who are closest to us. How hurtful it is to wait for the approval of a mother, father, or grandparent; to wait for the acceptance of a brother or sister, and yet, never have that acceptance or that approval come. How debilitating it is when we find that those we are related to by blood or by marriage do not accept us.
But when it comes to rejection by family that rejection cuts deep.
This is the disturbing truth of today’s gospel. But in this scene, there is also a thread of consolation. If Jesus himself was unable to avoid rejection by those who were closest to him, then why should we be surprised if such rejection happens in our life? If Jesus who was Son of God nevertheless found himself helpless when his family refused to accept him, then certainly he will know our pain if we are denied acceptance.
It hurts deeply when those closest to us refuse to love us. Jesus endured that hurt. He also showed us how to respond to it. The last line of the gospel says, “Jesus made his rounds of the neighboring villages and continued to teach.” When he was rejected in Nazareth, Jesus did not let that rejection undermine his identity or value. He did not reject his calling. He did not wrap himself in self-pity. He moved on.
He moved on to the neighboring villages and there continued to teach to those who would listen and to those who would respond. In the same way if we were to experience rejection by those who are closest to us, we too are called to move on. We cannot make anyone love us, but we can refuse to allow rejection to dictate our future. We still have gifts to give. We still have people to love. We must believe that our gifts and love are real.
No matter what we have suffered, no matter how much we have been loved or not loved, accepted or rejected, in the God revealed in Jesus Christ we are never alone, we are never turned away, and we are always loved.
With that strength, we move on, and give our gifts to those who will receive them. Share your love with those who will respond to it. Believe that there still is life and love to be found, even if it is not in your own hometown.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Spirit brings grace, truth, freedom, and abundant life. Guide me always to go forth and live your words.”
“Pray as you can, not as you cannot.” Different people will pray differently. But somewhere in all this we should tell God what hurts and grieves us in plain and unvarnished words, and place these things in God’s hands and ask for healing and strength. We might not have all the explanations to give to God, but we can trust God to hear us and to understand, to love and accept us. And as the prayer develops and grows, we can learn to listen to what God has to say in reply in the depths of our hearts.