A Jesus To Stretch Us!

When Jesus visited Nazareth, where He grew up, He faced rejection. He was not able to perform any miracles, apart from curing a few sick people. He was amazed at their lack of faith! Contrast this with the story of the Centurion, when He said, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” A centurion had come to Him asking for help for his servant who was paralyzed. When Jesus said He would go to his home, the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” We use these very word at ever Mass now!

Sometimes, like the people of Nazareth, Jesus becomes too familiar. We grew up reciting the same rote prayers, learning the same familiar bible stories, and going to mass Sunday out of obligation. We did not really develop a relationship with Him when what Jesus most of all wants is a close relationship with each of us. Jesus wants to journey with us every day, through good times and bad times, but we so often take Him for granted, just like the people in His hometown. 

Mark’s account intrigues me as a pastor because many of us love our priests as long as they don’t say anything unexpected or challenging. They would not be inclined to doubt the source of his teachings if he had not made them feel a bit uncomfortable. Their response to whatever it was he said reflects a combination of belief and incredulity and perhaps too much familiarity. They seem to believe that what he said was of divine origin and yet they are unable to believe that such a great gift would be given to someone they know and whose family they know. He is too familiar.

I have found that Jesus is good, but He is not safe. Not everyone wants to take the leap of faith to believe He is the Son of God and then to follow him along the hard and narrow path of discipleship spoken of by Mark. Not everyone is willing to allow Jesus to work deeds of power through them, and yes, many will refuse to welcome and hear him, especially when the going gets tough.

I pray we are all uncomfortable this year with this Jesus we worship. I want us to leave behind the childhood version of God and become a bit challenged by Him all over again. Then, come and behold a God of love and enter into a deeper relationship with Him. It is all He wants. It is all we want, too.

Monsignor +Jim 

Leave a Comment