Jesus at Nazareth: Mark 6, 1-6

James Tissot, Jesus in the Synagogue of Nazareth, Brooklyn Museum

The evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke all say that Jesus after he began his ministry went back to Nazareth where he’s rejected by those who knew him from his childhood. The evangelists describe the visit taking place at different times.  Mark’s gospel says he returned to Nazareth after he raised a little girl from the dead. A miracle like that would be widely known, the girl’s father, Jairus, was an official in the synagogue.

Mark also says that before Jesus returned to Nazareth, others were already questioning the marvelous things he did. Scribes from Jerusalem, the religious experts of the time, came and warned about him. “Keep away from him, they said.”

So when Jesus visited Nazareth there were already suspicions, warnings about him. But still, after raising a little girl to life, you would think he would be well received as he taught in the synagogue at Nazareth. He wasn’t. 

Recent commentaries on the Passion of Jesus, like those of Fr. Donald Senior, CP,  tell us to recognize that mystery of Jesus, not only as he enters the Garden of Gethsemane, but all through his life. Well before Gethsemane, Jesus knew suffering. He knew it in Nazareth, where rejection of him continued.  Earlier, Mark’s gospel says, members of his own family came to Capernaum trying to take him home because they said he was out of his mind.

We limit our understanding of Jesus if we see him only as a powerful teacher, a merciful worker of cures, one who commands the wind and the sea. The evangelists remind us by incidents like this that Jesus, who was in the form of God, humbled himself. He carried a silent cross. a cross unseen, before the cross of wood was given him.

Yesterday’s reading from the Letter to the Hebrews concluded the “cloud of witnesses” who help us run the race of life by telling us to keep our eyes on Jesus:

Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us
and persevere in running the race that lies before us
while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,
the leader and perfecter of faith.
For the sake of the joy that lay before him
Jesus endured the cross, despising its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.
Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners,
in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-4)

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