14B – 8 Jul 2018

Jesus goes home

Message by: Fr Richard M Healey

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Ready for some bible trivia? We read in the gospel of Matthew 2:23 that Jesus made his home in a town called Nazareth. This was to fulfil we’re told what “the prophets” had spoken, that “He will be a Nazarene.” Yet, the small village that Jesus grew up in, Nazareth, did not even exist during the period of the Old Testament. Matthew links the promise in Isaiah 11 that the Messiah would come as a branch that springs up from the seemingly dead family tree of King David. In Hebrew, the word for ‘branch’ is nezer, which sounds similar to Nazareth, so we are told that Jesus would be a branch-man or a stick-man – a Nazarene. Literally Jesus comes from the sticks!

In Mark 5 three mighty works of Jesus show his divine power. He overcomes the powers that destroy life – demonic possession, chronic illness and death. Here in Mark 6, Jesus travels from Capernaum where he has been doing all his ministry, to go back to this little village in the sticks where he grew up. It is about 40km west of the Sea of Galilee – which is a couple of days of walking. It seems he’s not only going home to visit his mum, but he goes as a Rabbi with all his disciples in tow.

On the Sabbath he teaches in the local assembly hall, but everyone is amazed. “Where did he get all this wisdom?” He’s only a tekton after all – which means a common worker or handyman. We normally translate the word as carpenter. It seems the fact that Jesus is just like them – a common working man from the sticks – is enough for them to despise him. Like so many people they wanted God to be – well, different; not like us. They thought they knew him, his mother Mary and his other relations. His human origins create a kind of road block for these people to believe in him. They also cannot experience the extraordinary wisdom and healing power that was possible in the ministry of Jesus.

He wants all that he does to point beyond himself. All that he does is a sign that the kingdom of God is breaking in. They instead get hung up on the concerns common to small-minded people across the ages. They do not seem capable of allowing the mystery of God to be what it must be. So the prophet Jesus is not accepted nor welcomed. The people of Nazareth remain trapped in their ignorance and unbelief. He is not able to perform any mighty deeds in that town. I love the next few words – except to heal a few people. Obviously healing people was so commonplace in his ministry!

We face the same problem today. So often we try and bring the awesome power of Jesus into our churches and communities – but then slowly domesticate it. We tear out the heart of Jesus’s power and energy and subject it to our mundane theology, traditions, liturgy and careful planning. We reject anything that does not fit into our ways of understanding. And Jesus remains amazed at our lack of faith.

+Lord Jesus, help us to stay radically open to the mighty works and new ways that you want to unleash in our world. Amen.

Empty and Beautiful (Matt Maher)

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