Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Don't Miss The Message Because You Dismiss The Messenger!

Today’s First Reading from Hebrews reminds me once again of my conversations with Father Arthur.

You have been struggling against sin, and you have tried to resist temptation. But you seem to have forgotten the words of encouragement addressed to you as children:

Do not make light of the LORD’s discipline. And do not lose heart when he rebukes you. For the LORD disciplines those whom he loves; he chastens everyone he accepts as his child. (Prov. 3:11-12)

Endure hardship as discipline, since God is treating you as his children. For what loving father would fail to discipline his child?

When it is administered, discipline seems painful, not pleasant. But later, it brings a harvest of righteousness, and of peace, for those who have learned from it. So, strengthen your feeble hands and your weak knees. Try to stay on the smooth part of the path, so that you don’t bruise your feet or sprain your ankle. (Prov. 4:26)

Make every effort to be at peace with everyone, since love of neighbor is holiness without which no one will see the LORD.

Today’s Gospel, on the other hand, is quite a different story.

When Jesus left the territory of the Gerasenes, where he had raised the daughter of Jairus, he returned to Nazareth, together with his disciples. On the Sabbath, he went to teach in the synagogue, and many of those who heard him were amazed.

“Where did this fellow learn these things?” they asked. “Where did he get such wisdom, that he can even work miracles?” Isn’t he the son of Mary, and kin to James, Joseph, Jude and Simon? Doesn’t his whole family live here in this town?” They took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “No prophet is without honor, except in his own hometown, among his kin. He could not work wonders there, except to lay hands on a few sick folk and cure them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Both the First Reading and the Gospel of the day reflect truths of the human condition. We would like to get good grades in school, but we don’t like to study. We would like to be strong and healthy, but we don’t want to eat right or exercise. We would like to be sinless, but we don’t want to practice the spiritual discipline which is just as necessary for spiritual growth as study is for intellectual growth, and exercise for physical growth and development.

The gospel describes the barriers that pride sets up against the work of God in our midst. Jesus observes that a prophet is not honored in his native place. When our pride is wounded, we become resentful. That seems to be why the people of Nazareth resent Jesus. Who does he think he is, anyway? He’s just a carpenter’s son. And their resentment prevents them from perceiving who he is, and who his Father is. You and I do that, too. We miss the message because we dismiss the messenger.

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