Summary: In today’s Gospel Jesus comes face to face with roadblocks. He has come to his hometown wanting to bring his extraordinary message of God’s love and forgiveness to his own former neighbours. But what happens? Roadblocks!
Seeds for Sowing - Vol. IV - Issue 5, No. 33
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year (B)
July 9, 2000
Familiarity and Faith
Have you ever come across a roadblock while driving your car? All of a sudden, the road is no longer available to you. When you first set out on your trip you had a definite idea of where you wanted to go. There was a goal that you had in mind. But now you sit in your car, facing the roadblock. What are your choices? You could act like you’re in one of those action movies, and just go crashing through that roadblock. But that would require a great deal of violence, and it probably wouldn’t do you much good because a roadblock is meant to keep you out of a place for a reason. Or you can resign yourself to the fact that you have to change your plans, even though you’re not happy about doing do.
In today’s Gospel Jesus comes face to face with roadblocks. He has come to his hometown wanting to bring his extraordinary message of God’s love and forgiveness to his own former neighbours. But what happens? Roadblocks! They don’t want to let him into their lives. They complain that he’s just a carpenter. In fact they even know his relatives fairly well. And so the Gospel writer reports that "Jesus could do no deed of power there...(he) was amazed at their unbelief."
What was the cause of their unbelief? What was the biggest roadblock that they threw in front of Jesus? When we look at the comments of the people it is clear that they were much too familiar with Jesus. They were limited by what they could see, by what they could touch, by what they could understand. What they had before them was the Messiah, the Son of God. What they saw was the carpenter, the son of Mary. Their limited views kept them from seeing who Jesus really was.
Some spiritual writers claim that the spiritual life is as much about removing obstacles to our natural relationship to God, as it is about taking positive steps towards that relationship. We are naturally in union with God. We are brought into life by the hand of God and sustained throughout our life by the hand of God. God is closer to us than we are to ourselves. And yet so often we either forget about God or just take God for granted, even though that seems impossible.
The Vision of Faith
Imagine that you were completely paralyzed. You were not able to feed yourself but the person who was your closest friend took on that task of feeding you every meal, each and every day. It would hardly seem possible that you would take that person for granted. Your life would be so dependent upon that person that you would be always be very conscious of their presence in your life. And yet, God not only feeds us. God breathes life into us each moment of our existence. But the difference here is that we only know God through faith. We don’t see God’s hand feeding us. We don’t feel God next to us. We don’t hear God’s voice. All of that requires faith.
Without faith we have a very limited view. We are conscious only of what we see, taste, touch, smell and hear. But that is not all of reality. Those people who grew up knowing Jesus only saw him from the outside. And so they thought they really knew who he was. But they were badly mistaken. They put a terrible roadblock in his way--their lack of faith.
Locking up God’s Power
There was a very powerful consequence to their unbelief. They were actually able to lock up the power of God. The gospel says that, "Jesus could do no deed of power there". Unbelief actually locks up the power of God. It limits what God can do in our midst. God is no less powerful because of our unbelief. The power of God is designed to be released as we trust God by faith.
Jesus comes to us the same way he came to be with the people in the Nazareth synagogue. He comes to us humbly , under the humble forms of water and words, bread and wine. He comes to us hiddenly - we don’t see anything special going on, there are no miracles. All we have is His Word. He comes to us as He came to the people in his hometown--a prophet, a preacher of the Word.
But we must approach the Lord with an openness and an expectancy. And it all begins with a willingness to do what God says. You see, unless we are open to the possibilities of God, we will never see what can be, we will always be limited to what has been and what is. The challenge for us is to always maintain the attitude that God can do anything. We must let God be God and constantly cultivate that attitude of expectancy that will enable Him to do great and mighty things for us.