2 Cor 12:7-10
Who do you think you are? Just exactly who do you think you are? Where do you get off, do you really think you’re that much better than we are? I know you, I know you family. You’re father is just a carpenter. You’re nobody special, why should we listen to you? You come in here all high and mighty, let us knock you down a peg or two. That can sum up the reaction Jesus received in Nazareth when he went back there to teach, to preach. The reaction of the people seems on the surface to be mean spirited. It is a reaction we have all seen before, a reaction to someone who has separated themselves in some way from the larger group. We react badly, at times, seeming to want no one to do more, or be more. We act as though their change in some way diminishes us. I think, though that this reaction isn’t necessarily mean or vengeful or envious. I think the reaction is fear. We are afraid of what one person’s growth or change means for us. If that person is really no different than we are, no better than we are, that means we can change and grow as well. We can step out of the larger group, and we are afraid. If those people of Nazareth had asked Jesus I’m sure he would have told them that, indeed, he was one of them, and they could, if they would, follow and be like him. But they were afraid, afraid of what change might mean, afraid that if we change we stop being who we are, or at least who we think we are. If we change we may stop being ourselves. It is the same fear we have, the same fear that moves us to try and drag down someone who has dared to separate themselves, someone who dares to be different, someone who unhesitatingly and without fear attempts to openly follow Christ. We want them to stop, we want them back, we want them to be who they were, we want them to stop challenging us to change. We are afraid, afraid of losing who we are, afraid to change, afraid we will stop being ourselves. If we would only realize that by embracing Christ, we don’t stop being ourselves, we become more ourselves than we realized was possible. The change we are called to makes who we should be, who, if we are honest with ourselves, we really want to be. We can change, if we simply embrace the gift of faith that is ours. Faith can relieve or fears, faith can make the change possible. Will we be perfect? No, we will fall. Will we stop being afraid? Some of the time, and with practice more and more of the time. We can be ourselves, our true selves, only with faith. We need not fear, yet I’m afraid that Jesus is still amazed at our lack of faith.
The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 5, 2009