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July 1, 1994     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 9 Commentary -- Jesus returns to his hometown: Rejected at Nazareth GOspel commentary for 1994 Fourteenth Sun- Time, Cycle B, After a series of miracles the healing compas- and authority of gathers his disciples, )ressure of crowds be- and returns to his home- lreth, Galilee. Here he village carpenter for years. he "got religion", was John the Baptist in the River, and went off to the of Capernaum. There he began a ministry of and healing. His hometown clan had about his activities. His immediate family to Capernaum to bring him home be- thought he had gone berserk. Jesus in not even recognize them as his relatives. ;he picture Mark paints JeSus arrived at Nazareth, he went to on Shabbat just as any pious Jews as a preacher was enough to moti- authorities of the synagogue to ask Jesus to gs of the day. He complied and rowd was duly astonished. But then to "Who does this man think he only a carpenter, the son of Mary. We know sisters. They live here withus." ldds: "And they were offended at him." can't recall too often that Mark, who was s, is writing about 40 years after sus. For this reason we cannot know By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST how much of the setting and the dialogue is historically accurate. Some influence on this story may be exerted by treatment of Old Testament prophets. We know that our gospel authors frequently used stories about Old Testament fig- ures and adapted those stories to Jesus. Jeremiah the prophet espe- cially comes to mind. In Jeremiah 11 the prophet returns to his hometown of Anathoth. His fellow citizens said to him:" Don't proph- esy in the name of the Lord or you'll die by our hands." Jeremiah, never having read the Sermon on the Mount about turning the other cheek, replies to the people of Anathoth: "... the young men shall die by the sword. Their sons and daughters shall die by famine and none of them shall be left." What a different response is given by Jesus to the offense of his fellow citizens of Nazareth: "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country and among his own relatives and in his own house." To show how little our gospel authors were concerned about historical accuracy, Matthew, who used Mark's story as a foundation, changes the dialogue to portray both Jesus and his family more positively. He does not call Jesus a carpenter nor refer to him as "son of Mary." In- stead he writes: "Is this not the carpenter's son and is not his mother called Mary." He also omits the reference to Jesus' relatives not accepting him. Luke puts the visit to Nazareth in an entirely dif- ferent context and ends the whole episode with an attempt on the life of Jesus by the Nazarenes. In this way Luke gets even closer to the Jeremiah story. For Mark this story is part of a major theme of his gospel, that Jesus was misunderstood and even- tually abandoned by everyone. Jesus' last words in this gospel sum it up: "My God, My God! Why have you abandoned me?" However, the theme of Jesus' distance from his own family is common to all four gospels. Thus we cannot be certain, but they may portray an historical fact. Mark is also concerned that his own people see themselves in the rejection of Jesus, how that rejection might end in martyrdom, but that a resurrection can only follow a cross. The people of Nazareth were put off by the hu- manity of Jesus. Familiarity bred contempt. They re- fused to look beyond his humble origins. It is pre- cisely these humble origins that make Jesus one of us. He lives in all who believe in him. Sometimes it is difficult to see him in others. He is hidden behind grime and sweat, behind unpleasant personalities, behind vanity, pomp, and vain display. He is in peo- ple who do not believe in us, criticize and ridicule, be- tray and abandon us, people it is better to avoid than to invite further confrontation. Jesus did not respond as Jeremiah did. He ,imply could not work in Nazareth and left. If our gospels and later traditions are historically correct, his relatives did eventually come to believe in him. Our gospel reading asks us to remember that behind all the sometimes unpleasant humanness we encounter in others there is either ac- tively or potentially a daughter or son of God. Readings: Ezekiel 2:2.5: II Corinthians 12:7.10. "Where customers send their friends" Open nightly til 9 p.m. Son z31 SOOT, - J.e., z, - 4sz-zm Gc-'00o TOYOTA Know: 1-800-937-USA1 is most trouble free car made in America J. D. Powers TAWIL ELECTRONICS, INC. i COMPUTERS, NETWORKS, SALES & SERVICES INDUSTRIAL ELECTRONICS PARTS INSTALLATION, TRAINING & REPAIR i ON LOCAL & WIDE AREA NETWORKS LANTASTIC - NOVELL UNIX- ZENIX 812-425-1100 2121 NORTH BEDFORD AVENUE EVANSVILLE, IN 47711 3 THE TRI-STATE SINCE 1977 Main Street Pharmacy 217 E. 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