Friday, January 20, 2017

Approaching Jesus with Faith - Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

He came home. Again (the) crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, "He is out of his mind."

Goal: A faith in Christ that overcomes my prejudices.

1. There are two very different reactions to Jesus’ actions. The crowds, the average people, have no preconceived notions about Jesus. The first thing they may have heard was about some wonder-worker, perhaps an itinerant prophet, in a nearby town. They go to see him out of curiosity. He goes beyond their expectations. He preaches the Good News and their hearts are set on fire. He cures and drives out demons and they marvel at his works. Faith is kindled in their hearts. They don’t have the training of the Pharisees and scribes to know exactly what this all means, but certainly here is a man sent by God - a prophet, perhaps the Messiah. They are excited.

2. Jesus’ family reacts very differently. They have known Jesus all his life and he had never done anything remarkable. Living in Nazareth, he had concentrated on doing his daily duties to perfection. He never did miracles. Perhaps he occasionally said something penetrating about God or the observance of the Jewish faith in their presence. These things made the family uncomfortable and a little suspicious. The rabbis never said anything like this. Cousin Jesus was the nicest person you could ever meet, but a little strange.

Now it is obvious to them that his strange tendencies have gotten out of hand. All this talk of miracles is too much. They must act before he does something outrageous and brings shame on the family. Their hearts and minds are closed to his sayings and miracles. There is no room for faith.

3. Do I have the faith of the crowds or the prejudice of Jesus’ relatives? Many of us grow up with Jesus – like one of the family. He has been a part of our lives as far back as we can remember. Perhaps, he has never done anything remarkable in our lives and we secretly like it that way. We worry when he tries to preach in our hearts or work wonders in our lives. We live in a kind of Nazareth where Jesus could work no wonders because of the lack of faith of the townspeople. We are upset when Jesus begins to work wonders in the lives of others and they get excited about him. It makes us uncomfortable. This is not the faith we are living. “They must be mistaken,” we think. We decide that something must be done and we try to silence Jesus’ voice like his family did. Our hearts and minds are closed by our familiarity with him and there is no room for a living faith.  

Petition: Lord, help me to examine my life to see if it allows you the room to do great things. Help me to remove whatever I am comfortable with if it holds me back from accepting your wonders in my life.

Resolution: I will make room for faith in my life. I will examine myself to see if I have a ‘comfortable’ Christ. I will open my heart to expect wonders in my life. I will think my faith is cold if I don’t feel excited about Jesus.

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