After a period of travelling, whether for work or holiday, I always get this nice warm feeling knowing that I’m coming back home. To come back to a familiar setting, even though it may not be a 5-star, the comfort of one’s own environment gives a sense of not only security but also tranquillity. No matter how wonderful and fun the “outside world” might have been, home always seems welcoming and it makes me feel homely (whatever that means). I once read that “your home is a reflection and an extension of you and your life”. Perhaps many of us feel the same way too.
In the Gospel today we are told that Jesus went to His home town. After being away for a period of time, Jesus must have looked forward to coming home, and this time His closest companions accompanied Him. With the coming of the sabbath, Jesus went to the synagogue – something that Jesus must have down all His growing up years. However, there was something different this time because “He began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard Him”.
To the people at the synagogue that day, this was Jesus – the son of Joseph and Mary – someone whom they knew and had seen in their neighbourhood for 30 years or so and now how is it that all of a sudden there is a transformation and so they naturally asked, “What is this wisdom that has been granted Him, and these miracles that are worked through Him?” They just couldn’t get past the fact that the man whom they have seen making tables and chairs, could also be the Son of God.
The primary obstacle here was that the people of Jesus’ hometown had seen Him in their midst – He ate, dressed, lived, and acted just like an ordinary person, so they determined that Jesus was not the Messiah – sadly, they would not accept Him. Some translations would have it as “they took offence at him”. So, not only did they not accept Jesus, but they took offence at what Jesus said and did at the synagogue. In some ways, Jesus’ familiarity became a stumbling block to them. The people in Nazareth could not find any fault in His preaching, but because He had lived among them for 30 years, He was familiar to them and so they questioned His background – what a great opportunity missed.
The Gospel today raises a question for reflection – where do I see or seek God? For many people, we look for God in the extraordinary and thus we miss out on meeting God in the ordinary. God is all around us – in the beauty of creation, in other people especially in the vulnerable, weak, and needy. God is there when we gather in the community and even when in the privacy of our rooms. We find God in Holy Scripture and in the Sacraments. It simply means wherever we are and whatever we are doing, there is an opportunity to meet God each and every day.
If we are one of those who is consistently looking for God in life-transforming or awe-inspiring things, then like the people who were gathered in the synagogue, we will miss the opportunity of seeing God. At this time, our “ordinary” is the situation of the pandemic and there are so many opportunities to meet God through the vulnerable, weak, and needy all around us. Just look around us and we will see them – people needing encouragement or some form of upliftment, a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, assistance to put food on the table or bills to pay, on the verge of a breakdown or raising the white flag. These are opportunities to meet God and also to bring Christ to others even without using His name.
This is not the time to be self-absorbed – my needs or how much attention I’m getting and doing things my way. It is the time to open our eyes and see God in the ordinary. Yes, we all have worries about our health, finances, and our future, but to turn a blind eye to a brother or sister in need at this time would be cruelly un-Christ like. Let’s be on the lookout for opportunities to encounter God in the vulnerable, weak, and needy because it is time to help one another to find our “home” – the place of security, tranquillity, and serenity.
“Never underestimate the valuable and important difference you make in every life you touch. For the impact you make today has a powerful rippling effect on every tomorrow.” (Unknown)
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (4 July 2021)