07 Jul


(A biblical refection on THE 14th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME [YEAR B] – 8 July 2018)

Gospel Reading: Mark 6:1-6 

First Reading: Ezekiel 2:2-5; Psalms: Psalm 123:1-4; Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 

The Scripture Text

He went away from there and came to His own country; and His disciples followed Him. And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue; and many who heard Him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get all this? What is the wisdom given to Him? What mighty works are wrought by His hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among His own kin, and in his own house.” And He could do not mighty work there, except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He marvelled because of their unbelief.

And He went about among the villages teaching. (Mark 6:1-6 RSV)

Because people did not have family names in Jesus’ day, there were three different ways one could distinguish two people who had the same name.

First of all, a common designation was where the person lived. Simon of Cyrene, Joseph of Arimathea, and Mary Magdala are good examples. A problem occurred, however, if the two people with the same name came from the same place. In that case, friends and acquaintances may have identified the person by occupation. Simon the fisherman, Joseph the carpenter, and Levi the tax collector are just a few examples. Modern last names such as Baker, Smith, and Cook originated in this way.

Finally, ancient people sometimes distinguished a person by who his father was. One of the apostles was James, the son of Zebedee, and another was James, the son of Alphaeus. This custom also found its way into different foreign languages and led to modern last names such Janowicz, which is Polish for “son of John”, and Fitzgerald, which is Irish for “son of Gerald”. Thus, those who knew Jesus called Him Jesus of Nazareth (where He grew up), Jesus of Capernaum (where He lived during His public ministry), Jesus the carpenter, Jesus the rabbi, or Jesus the son of Joseph. Any one of these names would have been appropriate.

Jesus left Nazareth as a simple carpenter but He returned as a famous rabbi with His own disciples. People throughout Palestine heard of His reputation and respected Him but the people in His home town gave Him a lukewarm reception.

In today’s Gospel, the people of Nazareth marvel at Jesus’ ability to preach and they ask one another if He isn’t the carpenter and the son of Mary. Notice that they do not call Jesus the son of Joseph. Either Joseph was already dead or they meant this as an insult. By not recognizing Joseph as the father of Jesus, they may have been implying He was an illegitimate child. In modern slang, they were calling Jesus a bastard. Therefore, Jesus homecoming was less than a big success.

It’s easy for us to remember that Jesus is God but difficult to think of Him as also human. Jesus did not walk around with a neon sign on His chest flashing the words “Worship Me, I’m God!” Jesus was just as human as we are, and He sometimes experienced what it is to be hurt and rejected.

The next time we feel down, let’s go to Jesus with our problems. He knows what we are going through because He went through the same thing Himself.

Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 184-185.

Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, come and be with me. Help me to listen to You more closely. Show me the ways I have boxed You in with My own ideas. Heal me with Your love so that I might serve You more fully. Amen. 

Jakarta, 6 July 2018 

A Christian Pilgrim


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