Monday, April 24, 2017

Why We Should Seek Christ Among Us

Mark 6:2-6 (NRSV): Welcoming Christ Among Us
2 On the sabbath [Jesus] began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 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. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.
Jesus and his disciples return to Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown. This return happens directly after Jesus performs many miracles. Just previous to this passage, for instance, Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:35-43). The people in Jesus’ hometown would have heard of these miracles, and as he preaches in the synagogue, they are “astounded” by his “wisdom” and “deeds of power” (6:2). But something is amiss among the residents of Jesus’ hometown. They cannot see past their prejudices. They say, “‘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” (6:3). The people of Nazareth see Jesus as the poor, common carpenter from down the block. How can he, their response implies, be a prophet or the Messiah? The people in town were preoccupied with where Jesus came from rather than who he has the potential to be.
Harboring preconceived ideas about someone can cloud our ability to see who they truly are and stymie an individual’s promise. Our faith in the potential of a person is often blinded by our prejudices. Prejudicial thinking, moreover, breeds xenophobia, exclusionism, and marginalization. Wasn’t Jesus marginalized, seen as an outsider, and rejected by the establishment?
Upon self-examination, it is easy to see that we, too, can fall prey to this way of thinking. Would we, then, have pigeon-holed Jesus because of his upbringing? Mark writes that Jesus could “do no deed of power there” (6:5) because of people’s lack of faith. When we believe, however, that a person is capable of rising above their circumstances, we offer them the faith and loving hope they deserve.
O Most Loving God, I pray that our minds and hearts be open to the potential of all people, no matter their circumstances or past. Kindly grant each of us, O Lord, the grace to welcome Jesus Christ among us. For it is in his name we pray, Amen.

Have a blessed week.