Jesus left that place and came to his hometown. His disciples followed him. On the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many who heard him were surprised. “Where did this man get all this? What’s this wisdom he’s been given? What about the powerful acts accomplished through him? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t he Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” They were repulsed by him and fell into sin.
Jesus said to them, “Prophets are honored everywhere except in their own hometowns, among their relatives, and in their own households.” He was unable to do any miracles there, except that he placed his hands on a few sick people and healed them. He was appalled by their disbelief.
Then Jesus traveled through the surrounding villages teaching.
He called for the Twelve and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a walking stick—no bread, no bags, and no money in their belts. He told them to wear sandals but not to put on two shirts. He said, “Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. If a place doesn’t welcome you or listen to you, as you leave, shake the dust off your feet as a witness against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that people should change their hearts and lives. They cast out many demons, and they anointed many sick people with olive oil and healed them.
“Don’t try to pretend you’re better than me! I know who you really are. People don’t change. You’re not fooling anybody!”
While I personally have never had anyone else say those things to me, I know I’ve said them to myself! And, I always think about them when I’m at home. That is, when I serve some where (or write this blog), I always feel like my family thinks this about me. Whenever my friends and I are talking at a pub about spiritual matters, I sometimes think they are thinking that way about me. Maybe it’s my own insecurities about my own failings and falseness. Whatever the case, I realize that I’m not alone. Jesus went through the same things. I think he may have even had the same self-doubt.
In Mark’s telling of the story, the opposition to Jesus has spread. It first started with the Religious Elite, then spread to his family, and now his home town community. This shows us the growing confrontation between the systems of the world and the Realm of G_d. It shows us the circle of influence. That is, we may feel that our lives aren’t making a difference. That our lone voice isn’t being heard. That our acts of kindness don’t seem to change anything in the “big picture.” But this shows us just the opposite. It reveals that every little bit helps. That G_d’s Realm does indeed grow, even through our (supposedly) lone efforts. The whole “mustard seed” imagery we looked at previously.
But, as the last section points out*, we aren’t alone in our endeavours. Sure, some places might not respond to us favorably. But that shouldn’t be seen as those places are without hope. Quite the contrary. Notice that Jesus sent his disciples to go to places that wouldn’t accept him. I see no reason not to think that one or two of them went back to Jesus’ hometown community. It takes all of us working together to manifest G_d’s Realm “on earth as it is in heaven.” As Paul wrote, “The one who plants and the one who waters work together, but each one will receive their own reward for their own labor. We are God’s coworkers, and you are God’s field, God’s building.”
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC
* In the commentary for this section, the Oxford Bible Commentary (pg. 898) made the following statement regarding the description of what the disciples were to take on their mission:
“Some details remain obscure. Mark allows the disciples to wear sandals (v. 9: Q does not: cf. Lk 10:4).”
The reason I point this out is because “Q” doesn’t exist! It’s a hypothetical document. How could anyone make such an absurd statement! The commentator states this as fact, when there’s nothing to prove the assertion.
This upsets me because people who may not know that “Q” doesn’t exist, just accepts that it does because it’s in the Oxford commentary! It just sloppy scholarship, in my humble opinion, and shouldn’t be allowed to be used in this way. We have to be more accountable than this.