God in a Box

17th Week in Ordinary Time, Friday (Year II)

Matthew 13:54-58

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.”

The people in Jesus’ hometown had him figured out, or so they thought. Elders saw him grow up from childhood; peers knew him as the carpenter’s son. Yeshua was an ordinary young man with no rabbinic training. His parents and relatives were also ordinary townspeople. What was Yeshua doing in the synagogue—teaching his neighbors and behaving like a man of authority? The spectacle was “offensive” and provoked disgust.

Jesus’ hometown suffered from spiritual cataracts. They assumed that their small world and the people around them had no more depth than what they had observed day after day, year after year. Their affliction was not peculiar to them. Overfamiliarity afflicts all of us and obstructs vision. 

If we open the eyes of our heart, every person we encounter, whether at home or in the streets, shines with the splendor of the Triune image stamped within. If we look in our yard, the dullest rocks are as dazzling as gold; both proceed from the same breath. (Mineral value is also not intrinsic but assigned.) The hobo and the king have the same “weight of glory” in the divine scales.

The Son of God took the risk of being mistaken for worthless dust when he assumed that dust as his earthly form. Only once did he allow mortal eyes to behold the blazing glory of his hidden person—at the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. Earth was not to be won over without an awakening from within, with a minimal show of power and might. 

Yet miracles and wonders were not lacking in the divine courtship. Compassion drew out his healing power even to those who sought him in hiding (e.g., the woman who touched his tassel). 

“According to your faith let it be done to you,” Jesus said to the blind men in another town (Matthew 9:29). Here in his own town, the brook of faith was dry and parched, dammed by familiarity and contempt. 

And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.

-GMC

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