Friday, July 3, 2015

Don't despise the prophet

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
July 5, 2015

Mark 6:1-6

The story doesn't stop being surprising. Jesus was rejected precisely among his own people, among those who thought they knew him better than anyone. He arrives in Nazareth with his disciples and nobody comes to meet him, as sometimes happens elsewhere. Nor do they present the sick of the village to him so that he will cure them.

His presence only awakens astonishment in them. They don't know who could have taught him a message so full of wisdom. Nor can they explain where the healing strength of his hands comes from. All they know is that Jesus is a worker born in a family from their village. Everything else is shocking to them.

Jesus feels despised -- his own don't accept him as the bearer of God's message and salvation. They have formed a concept of their neighbor Jesus and refuse to be open to the mystery that lies in him. Jesus reminds them of a saying that they probably all know: "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house."

At the same time, Jesus "was amazed at their lack of faith." It's the first time he has experienced collective rejection, not from religious leaders but from his whole people. This wasn't expected from his own. Their disbelief even manages to block his ability to heal -- "he could work no miracle there, except that he cured a few sick people."

Mark doesn't tell this episode to satisfy his readers' curiosity, but to warn Christian communities that Jesus can be rejected precisely by those who think they know him best -- those who are locked in their preconceptions without being open either to the novelty of his message or the mystery of his person.

How are those of us who think we are "his own" welcoming Jesus?
In the midst of a world that has grown up, isn't our faith too childish and superficial?
Aren't we too indifferent to the revolutionary novelty of his message?
Isn't our lack of faith in his transforming power strange?
Aren't we running the risk of quenching his Spirit and despising his Prophecy?

That was Paul of Tarsus's concern: "Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the gift of prophecy. Test everything; retain what is good." (1 Thes 5:19-21) Don't we Christians today need some of that?

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