As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard the one who was speaking say to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day. Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD! And whether they heed or resist-for they are a rebellious house - they shall know that a prophet has been among them.
1) To you I lift up my eyes who are enthroned in heaven --
As the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters. (Refrain:)
2) As the eyes of a maid are on the hands of her mistress,
So are our eyes on the Lord, our God, till he have pity on us. (Refrain:)
3) Have pity on us, O Lord, have pity on us, for we are more than sated with contempt;
Our souls are more than sated with the mockery of the arrogant, with the contempt of the proud. (Refrain:)
Brothers and sisters: That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him.
Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Copyright 1970, 1986, 1992, 1998, 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
Copyright 1970, 1997, 1998 Contraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc. Washington, D.C. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
The English translation of some Psalm responses, some Alleluia and Gospel verses and the Lenten Gospel Acclamations, some Summaries, and the Titles and Conclusion of the Readings, from the Lectionary for Mass copyright 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc., Washington D.C. All rights reserved.
The poetic English translation of the sequences of the Roman Missal are taken from the Roman Missal approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States, copyright 1964 by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Inc. All rights reserved.
- Cf. "See Jesus" in themes section.
- Barclay says:
(1) No one can be healed if they refuse to be healed. We can call it faith or we can call it the will to live. But no one can be saved without it;
(2) There is no preaching in the wrong atmosphere; and,
(3) There can be no peace-making in the wrong atmosphere. Jesus could not do any good works in Nazareth because the atmosphere was wrong and people did not accept him.
- On only two occasions does the gospel tell us that Jesus was astonished at anything. In both cases, it is about faith. The first episode is when Jesus comes back to Nazareth ("he was amazed at their lack of faith"). And the second episode was at Capernaum with the Roman centurion ("only say the word and my servant will be healed")... Jesus sees what is in us. Does he find the centurion's faith or the incredulity of the Nazareans? (see Days, pp. 132-3)
- George Washington Carver was an African-American scientist who did some pioneering work on the lowly peanut. In January 1921, he was called before the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives to explain his work. He expected such a high-level committee to handle the business at hand with him and those who had come with him with dignity and proper decorum. He was shocked when the speakers who preceded him were treated very rudely. As an African-American, he was the last one on the list, and so after three days of waiting, he finally got to make his presentation. He was shocked when he noticed one of the members with his hat on and feet on the table. When the Chairman asked him to take off his hat, the member said out loud, "Down where I come from, we don't accept a black man's testimony. And furthermore, I don't see what this fellow can say that would have any bearing on the work of this committee." At this point, George was ready to turn around and go home, but he said to himself, as he wrote in his autobiography, "Whatever they said of me, I knew that I was a child of God, and so I prayed 'Almighty God, let me carry out your will'". He got to the podium and was told that he had 20 minutes to speak. Well, his presentation was so engaging that he was granted several extensions until he had spoken for several hours. At the end of his talk, everyone on the committee stood and applauded him. (1)
1. George Washington Carver. Reprinted with permission from More Telling Stories, Compelling Stories, copyright 1993 by William J. Bausch, pp. 55-60. Twenty-Third Publications, Mystic, CT.
- A few years ago, I was standing outside of church, greeting parishioners, when an elderly woman approached me with a walker, walked right up to me and said: "I used to live in your home town. I knew your father, your mother, your aunt" and proceeded to list all of my family members that she used to know. Well, I had never mentioned in any of my homilies, or even to anyone in conversation, where I had been reared. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. When I asked her how she knew me, she said she had deduced it because there just aren't too many people with my name floating around out there. Well anyway, with a little gleam in my eye, I asked her how much it would take to keep her quiet.
I mention this story, not because she was critical of me, as Jesus' neighbors were of him, but just because it was such a surprise to be reminded so unexpectedly of one's beginnings. In the years since my ordination, I have returned to the parish of my youth on several occasions (usually for funerals of family members who still live in the area) and fortunately my receptions there were positive ones.
In our gospel today, Jesus goes home again. Now just from the old saying "you can never go home again", we would have been able to guess how our Lord would be received, even if we hadn't heard the gospel. But I think that we can all empathize with our Lord's feelings. Returning home is a real "Catch 22" situation: either we wouldn't measure up to the expectations others had of us, which would be bad; or, even if we had exceeded those expectations, as obviously Jesus had, those who had known us during our many early wanderings would probably throw them back in our faces.
Mark goes on to state that Jesus "could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them". Only a few people came to him with an open mind and without a hardened heart, that is, with a heart open enough to accept the truth about him, to accept him for who he was. And what he was, was the son of a carpenter, a common laborer, one of the "hoi polloi" as they say in Greek, one of the common people. For us, this should be one of the most reassuring facts about our Lord: that he was one like us, not wealthy or learned. But the Nazareans were just too near Jesus to see who he really was.
Jesus did not possess a scholarly knowledge which was acquired through intensive study or training. His former neighbors knew that much. Rather, he had acquired wisdom, a knowledge of what is right and true coupled with right judgment, because of the Spirit living in him. But his neighbors judged him based on a preconceived notion of who he was. They were unwilling to let him "be himself". (Remember that song from the sixties by Sly and the Family Stone called "Thank You for Letting Me Be Myself Again"?) Mark goes on to say that Jesus "marveled because of their unbelief". I'm sure that our Lord was very disappointed that he could not help the very people who had been the closest to him for thirty years. Again, It is a frustrating thing when others refuse to let us help them, but no one can be healed unless they will let it be done to them.
All too easily do we, just like the people at Nazareth, fall into the trap of judging others by external or incidental elements, and not by their inner merit. Martin Luther King put it so well when he said that one of his dreams was that people "would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character". In other words, he was praying that prejudice would cease.
Prejudice is not a pleasant topic to talk about. But it is something we are all guilty of, to one degree or another. We can't help ourselves; it is part of the human condition. Prejudice means to do just what the word says: to "pre-judge"others. Webster states that it is "an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand and without any basis in fact, knowledge, thought or reason; any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable; unreasonable feelings, opinions or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, directed against a racial, religious or national group". Now we may not be prejudiced against a group of people according to this definition. But how often do we judge others and put them down for one reason or another? That, too, is prejudice. We have formed an opinion of someone without a complete knowledge of their condition or circumstances. We have not walked a mile in their moccasins.
People who are prejudiced usually have a poor self-image, which leads them to put others down, which they believe will make them feel better about themselves. People who are comfortable with themselves and who they are, both the good points and their weaknesses (as Paul was discussing in the second reading), do not have to resort to prejudice to improve their feelings of self-worth. In other words, we have to be able to see Jesus in ourselves. We have been commanded to "love our neighbor as ourselves". We can only love others to the degree that we love ourselves.
Once we are able to see Jesus in ourselves, then we can take the next step which is to see Jesus in others. Jesus is no longer present with us, except as we see him in our brothers and sisters who are joined to us by our common humanity, by our common parenthood in God. We need to beware of acting as the Nazareans did. We need to accept others for who they are, that is, children of God, just like us. Consider the following story.
- Five nights after September 11, 2001, business is particularly slow for all the Middle Eastern restaurants and shops on Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. At three o'clock in the morning, Labib Salama, the owner of an Egyptian coffee shop, his friend Nasser and several other men are sitting around the café, playing chess, smoking shisha and talking about the recent attack on the Twin Towers. Suddenly, four young men (two white, two Hispanic) barge into the café. They're turning over tables, throwing chairs around, smashing dishes and a mirrored wall. Labib calls the police. Two cops arrive almost immediately. They snag the four guys, pin them down on the floor and handcuff them. But Labib refuses to press charges. He says he understands. He feels the same rage. "Let them go." The cops are baffled. They tell Labib, "If you don't press charges, you can't collect insurance." Labib shakes his head. "There's enough hatred already. We don't want to make more. Let them go." The cops have no choice but to let the guys go. The cops leave, too, and Labib and his friends start cleaning up the café. There's broken glass all over. Everything's broken. "I'm thinking now we are between the two sides. I'm afraid from the terrorist number one, and now I'm afraid from the American too."
An hour later, at four o'clock in the morning, the same four guys come back to the café. The first thing out of their mouths—they thanked Labib for not pressing charges. Then they helped clean up the cafe. They buy everyone coffee, and these two groups of men talk until 8 o'clock in the morning about their fears, differences and perceptions of each other. As the guys are leaving, Labib tells them, "Next time you want to come and be friendly with us, you don't have to hit us and then say you're sorry. Just come and be friendly in the first place."
We hear this story from Labib and his friend Nasser a week after the incident. Nasser leaves us with this thought. "It's time right now to bring the anger down. You have to inhale everything bad, and forgive the people for the people to forgive you."
Jesus told us that "I am the way, the truth and the light". If we are truly Christians, then we will see him in ourselves and in others. Only then will we truly be able to "love our neighbor as ourselves". Only then will we also see in them their own personification of the truth (which is Christ), and which has been given flesh only in them. Only then will we be able to see their inner selves, the part of them which is "important and is invisible to the eye", as the Little Prince said in that book of the same title. Only then will we be able to accept Jesus as he comes to us, and not as we think he will come to us. Only then will we be able to avoid the trap of prejudice into which the Nazareans fell and banish this sin from our lives.
1. Labib’s Cafe: from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories for a Better World by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Candice Carter, Susanna Palomares, Linda K. Williams and Bradley L. Winch. Copyright 2005 by Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL.
(Copyright 2012 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
July 4, 2021
Lord Jesus, you are our teacher and Savior, come as one like us. Lord, have mercy.
Christ Jesus, you are present in each and every one of us. Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, your power is brought to perfection in our weakness. Lord, have mercy.
July 4, 2021
Celebrant: Because of their lack of faith, our Lord could not work any miracles in his home town. However, confident in our faith that Christ will intercede for us, we can bring our prayers and petitions to the Father.
Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer."
That the leaders of the Church may be effective prophets of the Word of God, we pray to the Lord.
That the leaders of the nations of the world will govern their people with wisdom and respect, we pray to the Lord.
That the members of our parish community will not prejudge others but warmly welcome all to the table of the Lord, we pray to the Lord.
That all those who are traveling during these summer months may return home safely, refreshed in body and mind, we pray to the Lord.
That all caregivers will minister to those entrusted to their care as they would to Christ himself, we pray to the Lord.
That all of our brothers and sisters will be treated as our equals in the sight of God regardless of their race, color, nationality or religion, we pray to the Lord.
That all of those who have contracted the Corona virus will be healed, that those who have died will be welcomed into the loving arms of their Savior who suffered for them and that their grieving families will find strength in their faith, we pray to the Lord.
For all of the intentions we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.
Celebrant: Merciful Father, there were some who rejected the message brought by your Son. Grant us the grace of your Spirit to always welcome him by welcoming others in his name. We ask this through Christ our Lord.