Mark 6: Rejected at Nazareth

Our gospel reading at Mass today is from the 6th chapter of Mark. “Jesus departed from there and came to his native place accompanied by his disciples.” (Mark 6, 1)

He came to Nazareth from Capernaum where he brought back the daughter of Jairus from the dead and healed the woman who touched his garment. (Mark 5, 21-43) That news surely reached his hometown before he arrived.

When Jesus enters their synagogue on the Sabbath, the people are initially impressed by his teaching and news of “his mighty deeds” but then they recall he’s “‘the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.“

“‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house,” Jesus tells them. “So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. “ (Mark 6, 1-6)

Over and over we hear in Mark’s Gospel what we wouldn’t expect: that Jesus was rejected in places where he went. In Capernaum, he drives out an unclean spirit, cures Peter’s mother-in-law and, at the end of the day, the whole town is at his door. {Mark 1, 16-34) But the enthusiasm doesn’t last. Capernaum and other towns in Galilee first receive him, then reject him. (Matthew 11,23)

In pagan territory, over the Sea of Galilee on the east bank, he also meets rejection. He casts out the unclean spirit there, as he did at Capernaum, but when the pigs stampede down into the sea the townspeople ask him to leave. He’s endangering their economy, they say. (Mark 5, 1-20)

Jesus doesn’t have continual path of success in his ministry, or an unbroken parade of achievements, Mark insists. Even his own hometown, his family, don’t receive him well. Final rejection takes place on Calvary in his passion and death, but rejection and misunderstanding meet him all through his public life.

Nazareth has a prominent place in the story of Jesus’ rejection. From his earliest years as a child, he was thought little of there, it seems. Later apocryphal gospels that date from the 2nd century relate miraculous stories about Jesus as a child in Nazareth, but they lack credibility. Jesus did nothing remarkable in his “hidden years.” Some blissful modern portrayals in music and art miss this point. They did not watch his every move with expectation as he grew up.

Jesus “was not able to perform any might deed” in Nazareth; he did not impress or convert many there, as far as we know. He was just “the carpenter’s son.”  Like any other human being, he seemed part of the world in which he lived, someone of the time and place. Subject to Mary and Joseph, hardly noticed, “ he grew in wisdom and age and grace before God and man.” (Luke 2,52)

From his time and through the centuries, Nazareth never seems to have accepted the one we call God’s Son. Historians say early Jewish-Christians after his resurrection were expelled from the town. The Christian presence in Nazareth has been small, even till today.

Nazareth is part of the mystery of the Incarnation. The scandal of the Incarnation.

2 thoughts on “Mark 6: Rejected at Nazareth

  1. Gloria

    The Expected Messiah

    The people were expecting a valiant warrior,
    someone like Joshua or David,
    who would deliver them from the Romans,
    their hated oppressors.
    They wanted a revolution to overthrow their enemy.

    The upper class who held power over them,
    didn’t see themselves as oppressors of their people.
    They pleaded with God to send them a messiah,
    one with a fiery sword and a huge undefeatable army.

    God answered their prayer,
    but when the deliverer came, except for some,
    they didn’t recognize this ordinary working man,
    son of a carpenter, who followed his father’s craft.

    He didn’t rage and rant about revolt.
    He talked about God’s love for everyone.
    He healed the physically and mentally ill.
    He taught in their synagogues.
    But their attitude was who does he think he is?
    He’s Joseph’s son, a carpenter, like his father.

    And when his time came,
    his own turned their backs on him
    and ran away to safety.
    One betrayed him, one denied him.
    One stood with his mother
    and other women at the foot of his cross.

    True to what he taught,
    he forgave those who took his life.

    Some still look for a Messiah.
    They missed him when came.

    Gloria Ziemienski
    October 7, 2015


  2. jbarrycp

    Jesus did not always have success in his preaching
    ministry , he is rejected at times, so He goes on to
    other villages preaching and healing.
    sometimes our own best efforts for God, can be
    rejected or not paid attention to, what do we do then
    we align ourselves with Jesus and Go on to a new
    place of ministry to others.
    Jesus keep us open to the ups and downs of
    our lives of service to others.


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