Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Genesis 45:1-15, 1 Corinthians 7:32-40, Mark 6:1-13
Can you imagine any of your childhood friends becoming the Messiah? Neither could the people of Jesus’ hometown. When we have known someone since before they were toilet-trained, or have endured their adolescent moodiness, or have witnessed other personal (all too humanizing!) traits, our ability to see her or him as truly extraordinary can evaporate. Executive washrooms are exclusive for a reason. Familiarity may not always breed contempt, but it doesn’t often promote reverence.
When Jesus tried to teach in Nazareth, people took offense at his attempt. They asked: “Isn’t he just that carpenter? You know, Mary’s kid?” Their unbelief amazed him, and limited his abilities. Like a nightmarish high school reunion, his peers’ preconceptions negated all he had become. We may judge in hindsight, but how would we react if the neighbor kid started telling us we needed to rethink our concept of God?
Though none of our neighbors, children, siblings, parents, or friends are likely to be the second coming of Christ, the reaction of the people of Nazareth serves as a warning. We don’t always want to hear challenging truths from someone we know well. We may brush off legitimate criticism from friends by reminding ourselves (and them) of their own faults. We might ignore good advice from Dad because “he always worries too much.” After watching our children make mistakes we warned them about, we may have trouble learning to see them as capable adults. Companies often bring in consultants to point out obvious truths not because consultants are smarter, but because strangers lack the baggage we use to discredit our peers when we don’t like what they have to say.
What damage do we cause our relationships when, even unknowingly, we dismiss people because they are familiar? Maybe we’re not preventing them from performing miracles, but how much might they accomplish if shown a little faith? One way to try seeing the face of Christ in everyone is to define them by their potential, and not by their shortcomings. Sometimes they may let us down, but how we can rejoice when they lift us up!
Comfort: No matter how other people see you, God sees you as He created you to be.
Challenge: Be discerning, but don’t fall into the trap of cynicism.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me space to grow. Please help me to live into the potential you have created for me. Please help me support and foster the potential of others. May we develop all our talents to serve God and neighbor. Amen.
Discussion: Is there anyone in your life – children, parents, friends, etc. – you are seeing through outdated eyes? How can you change that?
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