August 2, 2019 – Friday 17th Week in Ordinary Time
From the Gospel according to Matthew (13:54-58)
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
“Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter’s son?
Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us?
Where did this man get all this?”
And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house.”
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
Have you experienced being judged by friends of family members because of your past sins, weaknesses or failures and because you are just too familiar and ordinary for them? Or have you ever judged others too because of their past sins and failures and because they also are very familiar and ordinary to you?
When I was in high school, I had this classmate who appeared to be always untidy, late and worst would usually fail his exams. Yet, when we moved up to a higher year, there was something that surprised the class about him. Though he still looked untidy and sometimes came late, but, his exams got higher and better results. Every time he passed an exam, we were bitter. Everyone suspected him that he cheated. Most of us couldn’t believe that he had the potential. Others became angry and felt bad whenever he got a higher score than those who usually got high scores.
Indeed, most of us judged him that he did not have the capacity. We judged him of his past behavior and of his failures. Thus, we have failed to recognize that he had actually that capacity. We refused to believe in him because we felt insecure of his capacities and potentials.
Though Jesus never failed and sinned, yet, such judgment and bitterness are not far from the experience of Jesus. When Jesus went home to Nazareth, he was treated badly by his own people. The good news that he preached and God’s power that he revealed to his neighbors were treated with cruelty and insecurity.
When Jesus stood in their midst, the people merely saw a carpenter and an ordinary man who once played and worked with them. The people limited Jesus by what he was used to do, in doing carpentry, nothing more and nothing less. They couldn’t accept that there was actually MORE in Jesus.
This is very similar with our judgment to that classmate of mine. For many of us, he was just a lazy boy, untidy classmate, not capable of anything except in failing his exams. We too could not accept that there was MORE in him.
Thus, instead of welcoming the power and wisdom that Jesus shared with grace and faith, the people refused to accept because of their insecurities and bitterness. They rejected Jesus because they could not accept that this ordinary carpenter brings God’s presence to them. They questioned him, “Who is this man? Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?”
The too-ordinary life of Jesus prevented them to welcome him as God’s revelation to them. Resentment and hate overwhelmed the people which made their hearts, unbelieving. This was the reason why Jesus was not able to perform mighty deeds for them because God’s grace will only work when it is received with faith. Jesus is after all, not a magician who will attract people’s attention for a short span of time. Jesus reveals God’s presence and power through ordinary means.
And this is not far from our own experiences too. Many times we reject what is ordinary and familiar to us. We ignore God’s grace and invitation to us because we are busy looking for extra-ordinary things, for a magic to appear. That instead of recognizing God’s power in an ordinary sunrise and sunset, we busy ourselves looking for a “dancing sun” or “falling petals from heaven.” Thus, we refuse to believe that there is MORE in the ordinary.
Miracles happen every day in its most ordinary way. God’s grace is being unfolded even in our everyday experiences. God’s healing power is also revealed to us through our familiar sacraments in the church and through the embrace of people who love us like your parents, siblings, relatives and friends.
This is the invitation now for us today – that is, to make ourselves more aware of God’s work even in the most ordinary way, to recognize God even among the familiar people, places and events. When we are able to learn this kind of awareness, then, we too shall discover the wonders that God gives us every day, and we shall realize that there is MORE in every ordinary experience, and in every ordinary and familiar person we meet.
This calls us not to judge quickly to what is familiar and to what is seemingly ordinary, but, to be more welcoming of God’s grace. This reminds us now to be more open to the many potentials of those people who are familiar to us, and not to limit them to their past failures and sins. This calls us too to recognize how God unfolds his grace and his gift of healing through those people who love us. This calls us also to listen to God’s message and invitation through our present situation and through the people who might be God’s prophet today even though they look so familiar and ordinary for us, because there is always more that God offers to us. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR