Meditation of the week

An amazing lack of faith

Mark 6,1-6

After raising the daughter of Jairus to life Jesus and his disciples travel from the western shore of the Sea of Galilees to his home town of Nazareth. On the Sabbath he preaches the gospel of the kingdom in the local synagogue. There is a depth and wisdom in what he says that amazes his listeners, and a power and compassion in his miracles that is awesome.  They ask the right questions, wondering about the origin and meaning of such power and wisdom.  However, the question, “Where did this man get all this?” gives a clue to what follows.

There is a complete change of attitude and tone in the disparaging questions which follow.  The next question referring to his being the carpenter, the son of Mary is insulting. It is contrary to Jewish custom to refer to a man as the son of his mother. Don’t they know his brothers and sisters living locally? The terms “brothers and sisters” were given a wider meaning then than we give them. The phrase in today’s gospel reading; “They would not accept him” is rendered in the Greek text as, “They were scandalised/offended at/in him.” They could not believe that an ordinary, local artisan, however extraordinary his teaching and miracles were, could be the Messiah.  To their minds, if he came from the local, humble, family which they knew so well, then he could not have come from God, as the Messiah was expected to. By the time Mark’s gospel was being written Jesus was being rejected as Messiah by many Jews because he died the ignominious death on the cross which was completely contradictory to their idea of Messiah. The local rejection at Nazareth was typical of his rejection at large by his people, later.

Jesus worked a few miracles for the few locals who believed in him as Messiah.  In the phrase, “He was amazed at their lack of faith,” one can sense the disappointment and sadness Jesus must have felt for his local people, at their failure to appreciate the good news he so wanted them to accept for their own good.

Try to imagine the atmosphere in the synagogue as Jesus spoke to the local people on that Sabbath. Sense the admiration and pride they must have felt to see and hear a local man speak so graciously. Sense the change of mood from admiration at his teaching and miracles to rejection of their implications?

Their rejection of Jesus indicates a closed mind on their part, an unwillingness to accept the implications of his miracles and preaching because they did not fit with their own preconceived ideas about the Messiah.  They had an unshakable faith in their own convictions about the Messiah, which Jesus could not change, regardless of how amazing his preaching and miracle were. “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”

Have you ever lost faith in Jesus?  What did you learn from the experience?  What things or events have helped to deepen and strengthen your faith in Jesus?

Where do you meet Jesus in your life?

What are the things which prevent some people from accepting Jesus today?  What can be done to help them?

Fr Geoff O’Grady