Friday, July 30, 2010

“A little faith will bring your soul to heaven; A great faith will bring heaven to your soul.”

Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Gospel text (Mt 13:54-58): Jesus went to his hometown and taught the people in their synagogue. They were amazed and said, «Where did He get this wisdom and these special powers? Isn't He the carpenter's son? Isn't Mary his mother and aren't James, Joseph, Simon and Judas his brothers? Aren't all his sisters living here? How did he get all this?». And so they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, «The only place where prophets are not welcome is their hometown and in their own family». And He did not perform many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Who does Jesus think he is anyway? Why does he think he knows more than us? Does he think he’s better than us?

Then Jesus offers a powerful, if not sardonic, one-liner: “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and his own house.” In other words, Jesus is saying, “Look, I know I’m a prophet. And I know many people from all over are extremely impressed by what I know and do. But this is what always happens in someone’s hometown and family: lack of credibility, jealousy, ultimately lack of faith.”

It’s this “lack of faith” that I find most interesting here: “And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.” We could understand this line in two ways: First, Jesus was punishing them by choosing not to perform mighty deeds because they lacked faith. I think we usually understand this passage this way. But a second way might actually have merit: Jesus could only perform mighty deeds if others showed great faith! I don’t know for sure which is the case, and I don’t intend to limit Jesus so much as to suggest that we have a significant role to play in doing God’s work. The “mighty deeds” of Jesus almost always involve great faith and participation from others: for example, raising Lazarus from the dead, healing the woman who was bleeding and touched Jesus’ garment, healing the paralytic lowered through the roof by his friends, and Peter’s walking on water.

To preach or speak about God with our own people or family may be difficult but necessary. However, come what may, we shall often find that those we love the most are those who could not care less about listening to us. To this effect, we must also bear in mind that shortcomings are easier to spot than virtues and, accordingly, those closer to us may wonder: —What are you trying to teach me, who used to do (or still does) this or that?

It is evident Jesus would leave somewhat sadly but nonetheless He would proceed with his preaching until his word of salvation would be welcome by his own people. Likewise, we (that have nothing to forgive or oversee) will have to preach so that Jesus' word reaches those that we love but do not want to listen to us.

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