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I once heard an “expert” described as someone who carries a briefcase and had to travel at least 50 miles to get some place. I think there is more than a grain of truth to this statement. It certainly reflects what was going on in this Sunday’s Gospel. In that Gospel Jesus came to his native place and began to teach in the synagogue. The people were astonished, but also very critical. They said: “What kind of wisdom has been given to 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? Are not his sisters here with us/” And they took offense at him.”
Jesus was too familiar to the people in our Gospel today. They knew who he was, and that was all that he could be. They were not open to him being other than what they conceived him to be. At times, all of us “lock” people into a preconceived idea of who they are and/or what they can do. When we do this, though, we fail to recognize the presence of God in that individual. And when we fail to recognize the presence of God in one person, it limits our ability to see the presence of God and the grace of God at work all around us. This is what was happening in our Gospel today.
Our first reading this Sunday is from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, It shares the theme of the Gospel. God has sent Ezekiel to the Israelites, a people “hard of face and obstinate of heart …………… And whether they heed or resist --- for they are a rebellious house --- they shall know that a prophet has been among them.”
Our second reading this Sunday is from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. In the section we read this Sunday Paul talks about being given a “thorn in the flesh.” He begged the Lord to take it away, but the Lord told him: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Have you ever let an early experience of someone blind you to better/deeper understanding of them?
- When have you failed to recognize the presence of God in someone?
- Have you ever had an experience when God’s grace was sufficient for you?