Friday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops

In today’s gospel Jesus returns to His hometown not simply as the son of the carpenter but now as a rabbi with disciples. Every week Jesus goes to the synagogue to worship and on occasion to read the scriptures and comment on them to the people. His kababayans (town mates) listen very carefully on this occasion because they heard about the miracles he performed in other towns. Indirectly they are looking for a sign. But Jesus startles them by saying that aprophet is not without honor except in His native place and in His own house.The people of Nazareth are offended at what He has said and therefore refuse to listen to what he has to say.

They refuse to listen for three reasons: First, because he is a workingman. He worked with His hands in wood, and stone, and metal. He fixed doors and windows, built houses, and made plows. Some people then, like some today, thought that those who work with their hands are incapable of any intellectual level which could command respect. But in the Talmud, however, carpenters are praised for their knowledge of the Torah.

The second reason why they reject Jesus, it is because He is so close to them as their neighbor. He is a mere layman. And the third reason they reject Him is because of His family. He was related to some of the townspeople. The Semitic words used here for brother and sister can be used of cousins or even more distant relatives. They remember Him as Joseph’s kid or maybe as a baby conceived illegitimately. Their memories of His youthful immaturities distracted them from seeing His true identity as the Savior of the world. This is how familiarity can breed mistaken contempt.

In a similar manner, we are rejected too by those who know us too well. But rather than get angry about this let us take this situation as an opportunity to further our humility. Being accepted by God should be our highest goal and it is only His opinion of us that really matters. Somebody had said that as long as God approves of us, the fact that others accept us or reject us is a moot point.

It is good to us if we are rejected by people especially those who have known us well because it is for the benefit of our spiritual growth as true Christians. A priest in his homily said that as St. Teresa of Avila, in her The Way of Perfection (chapter 12) had said: “God deliver us from people who wish to serve Him yet who are mindful of their own honor.” When we want to be accepted because it feels good, we are caught in the trap of self-centeredness. St. Teresa called it the temptation of “vainglory” (vanity); to do God’s will and then expect others to praise us for it is a “poison” that is “fatal to perfection,” it destroys the love and holiness within us.

We should want nothing but to please God and we should expect no reward but His happiness.


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