1.Ezekiel 2:2
2.2Kor 12:7-10
3.Mk 6:1-6

In today’s readings more especially from the gospel, we hear Jesus returning to his hometown of Nazareth having left there for sometime previously. He had in fact spent the best part of thirty years in Nazareth. During that time he was known by all as the carpenter, the son of Mary. Nevertheless, since leaving Nazareth, Jesus’ life had taken a new direction. He had plunged himself into the work that God had sent him to do. He had left Nazareth as the carpenter; he returned as the teacher and a healer. There was much more on the part of Jesus than his own natives expected while he was still leaving with them. The gospel reading suggests that they could no longer his teaching and healing, consequently they rejected him. Jesus home coming turned out to be more painful than his leaving home. The message from the gospel is clear, that once in a society or a community when a person becomes critical and radical he/ she is always perceived as the thorny in the flesh of other community members an image used from today’s second reading.

The people of Nazareth thought they knew Jesus. The image they had about Jesus became a stumbling block to their learning about him. We are told that familiarity breeds contempt. Familiarity always blinds eyes to an extent that you cannot see the image and message of God on other people, this is because of familiarity. Familiarity brings darkness that even makes a cockroach to pass in front of Chicken’s mouth unrecognized. The very reasons that made the people of Nazareth to reject Jesus are the same reasons that make people even today to reject him. Due to familiarity you can look at a person and see nose, eyes, ears and face without recognizing the image of God in a person due to familiarity. You can ask yourself that are you not happy because of someone’s success you are familiar with? In one of the Olympic games one of the prayers appeared a game star. According to the tradition and custom of the Greeks the statue of the person who won the game was made to honor him. This fact brought jealous to those who did not win the game. One among those who did not win the competition became envious, thus went during the night to dismantle the statue made in acknowledging the one who won the race, unexpectedly the statue fall to that person and immediately died on the spot. The natives of Jesus country were not happy simply because Jesus was acknowledged because of his mighty deeds. There is a Tanzanian saying that goes on like that ‘ Your neighbor won’t say that you are man’ ( Jirani hasemi kuwa wewe ni mwanaume).

In our life experiences we are obliged not to arrive at conclusion that we know somebody on the basis of the past experiences, however, in turn we find that we know part of him/her. Because of our limited understanding we find ourselves forming strong opinions about people on the basis of past experiences. There was more to Jesus than the people of Nazareth were aware of. Likewise, there is always more to every human being than we are aware of. We are created in the image and likeness of God, thus there is profound mystery to each one of us. We can never fully understand the mystery of another’s person’s life. Senses at time deceive, we are invited to appreciate that what we perceive by our senses about others might be not a conclusion to what the other is, nevertheless, we have to be aware that there is more in person than what we perceive with our senses in him/ her. God always comes to us through people who are always familiar to us. The gospel today suggests that Jesus comes to us every day in a familiar ways even we do not imagine, yet with eyes of faith we  should accept.

The Lord can even come to us in and through what we initially experience as something very negative. St Paul according to the second reading realized this for himself, he struggled with what he called thorny in the flesh. However, it is not easy to what St Paul meant. He saw no good in it and he prayed earnestly to the Lord to take it from him, fully expecting that his prayer would be heard. Paul’s prayer was answered but not in a way he expected. In a prayer he came to realize that God was powerfully present in and through this thorny in the flesh. The lesson is that when we find ourselves struggling with something inside ourselves, or with something outside ourselves, some person perhaps we can be tempted to see the struggle as totally negative and just want to be rid of it. Like Paul let’s open our minds and hearts that sometimes difficult experiences are means opening up to God’s presence. The very thing we judge little or no value can create a space for God to work powerfully in our lives.  

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Chapisha Maoni