A Prophet is Not Without Honour, Except in His Own Country: a Homily Thread

Fr. Allen tweeted a portion of this morning's homily, for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity (the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B), the Gospel reading for which is Mark 6.1-6. 

Jesus 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 honour, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”  And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them.  And he marveled because of their unbelief.  And he went about among the villages teaching.

Homily thread (Trinity 6; OT 14b):

We have to acknowledge that the people of Nazareth were right; or, their expectations wrong but - kind of - justified.

After all, Jesus was fully human. He was a man like other men. He really was the carpenter from Nazareth, whose mother and half-brothers and sisters and cousins they all knew. St. Paul, writing to the Thessalonians said, “Make it your ambition to live a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands,” and it seems that is exactly how our Lord lived in Nazareth, before he went down to present himself to John for baptism in the river Jordan.

In other words, he was normal, not that impressive; indeed, in some sense even unimpressive. As the prophet Isaiah had said, “He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.”

That is how he came, and that is how he comes among us still. St. Augustine said, “I am afraid of Jesus passing,” because he might pass without my realizing it, without my being ready to receive him. He comes to us still in ways that are familiar, normal, even unimpressive.

A carpenter, who constructed the world. A poor Nazarene, but King of the Universe. A crust of bread, but his sacred Body. A sip of wine, but his precious Blood.

And the poor who, as he Jesus said, “are always with us,” and in whom he presents himself, wounded and in need, for our love and adoration. We have a great addiction to “new and improved” - in our technology, in our vehicles, in our toys, sometimes in theology and liturgy.

We want to be impressed. But our Lord comes to us along old and familiar pathways: the Bible; Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be; the 10 Commandments; Confession and penance; as we visit the sick and help our neighbor in need.

But, you know, that itself is an expression of his love for us, his respect for our freedom. He does not trick us, does not manipulate our feelings and energy with novelty, but invites our love.

In a sense, he is still among us leading a quiet life and working with his hands, and does not want us so much to be dazzled by him, as to know him, to seek friendship with him.

And friendship grows from companionship, from shared work, from conversation, from the patterns of relationship that are, in a sense, old and familiar, but - in a living relationship animated by love, are always new.

And this morning, on this Altar, across this rail, Jesus returns to his own country, to you and me, clothed in the humble and familiar robes of bread and wine, and presents himself to us - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Let us learn the lesson of the people of Nazareth, and give him honor, and receive him when comes.

[Leaned on this homily by Fr Cantalamessa: https://zenit.org/articles/father-cantalamessa-on-a-prophet-without-honor/ ]