He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13:54-58)
Today in the Gospel we encounter a real-life illustration of many of the lessons Jesus has been teaching us in the Parables of the Kingdom over the last eight days. When Jesus returns to his hometown synagogue to sow the Word of God, he didn’t find in everyone the fruitful soil he found in his mother and foster-father. He found some rocky soil that immediately responded to his words with astonishment as well as much packed down soil by the wayside that totally resisted his message.
Jesus could do no mighty works in his hometown because the people who were familiar with him were closed-minded and despised his claim to speak and act in the name of God. If people come together to hate and refuse to understand others different than themselves, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others.
There is too much of that around us. People spend far too much time on the internet trying to prove a point or worse yet distorting facts to justify their position. To many people, conspiracy theories are a daily feeding. What they do not realize is that the source of hatred that feeds these theories is from the evil one. After all, hatred is not the teaching of Jesus Christ but rather an anathema to his gospel.
The Lord Jesus offers us freedom from sin, prejudice, contempt, hatred and fear. His love and grace sets us free to love others with the same grace and mercy which he has shown to us. Only Jesus can truly set us free from the worst tyranny possible – slavery to sin and the fear of death. His victory on the cross brings us pardon and healing, and the grace to live holy lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.
It is only when we believe God has chosen us and can recognize the very sound of our voice that we can live in freedom. Jesus’ words are clear. We belong to him. He knows our voice. He will always care and protect us. We need then, to stand in that personal relationship. We need to draw the strength that comes from Christ’s commitment to us. Jesus says, “I love you.” We need to believe that He is serious!
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your love conquers every fear and breaks the power of hatred and prejudice. Flood my heart with your mercy and compassion, that I may treat my neighbor with the same favor and kindness which you have shown to me.”
What it comes down to, what is at the heart of our religion is that we know that we are daughters and sons of God. We believe that we have a personal relationship with Christ. We trust that regardless of who we are or the mistakes we have made, God will remain faithful to us and protect us. We believe that Jesus knows the pitch of our voice and knowing everything about us, still freely chooses to love us and protect us. Outside of that relationship, faith is simply a matter of words and religion a system of ideas. Words and ideas are not going to save us. Only love can save us.