Today’s gospel reading marks a new section in Matthew in which Jesus begins the way of the Cross more explicitly and prepares his disciples to carry on after him. His rejection begins in his hometown!

Through his teaching in the synagogue, Jesus astounds the people. Rather than hearing his deeper meaning, however, the crowd focuses on the superficial and turns on Jesus: They wonder, How can the carpenter’s son, whose family we all know, be so full of wisdom and power?

Two phrases immediately come to mind: “You can’t go home again” and “familiarity breeds contempt.”

One of their very own had gone away and earned a reputation for building a kingdom of love and healing, yet even he acknowledges that “prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” Despite recognizing Jesus as special and the bearer of a mighty message, his own homeland becomes hostile territory.

Probably all of us have had some experience, directly or indirectly, of this! We Irish, in particular, are well known for our ‘begrudgery’!

It might be helpful for us to see how often and where we ourselves have been guilty of this. How often have we written off what people we know very well, or think we know very well, suggest to us? It is important for us to realize that God can communicate with us through anyone at all and we must never decide in advance who his spokespersons will be.

Finally, we are told that Jesus could not do in Nazareth any of the wonderful things he had done elsewhere “because of their lack of faith”. His hands were tied. Jesus can only help those who are ready to be helped, those who are open to him. How open am I?

—Jeremy Langford, Director of Communications for the Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA.