Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost                                                                                
Proper 9 - Year B   
Mark 6:1-13                                                              

"He left that place and came to his hometown...."

What is it about your home town that allows you to blend in so easily when you go back? You're bound to bump into somebody who'll think you've never been away and assumed you'd simply been lying low and keeping to yourself. The pendulum in your head swings back and forth several times between "Yes, this is where I belong"and "No, this is certainly no longer who I am". Some of you have recently been repatriated to the U.S. after a number of years in France. Many of us will return to our home countries for holidays at some point in the summer and will find ourselves reconnected to
family members or old friends. It may prove a challenge.

We should not stretch this passage out of shape by relating it too swiftly to ourselves. This is not a passage about us. This story is about Jesus. The words at the beginning of Mark's Gospel had indicated to the reader that Jesus is one who belongs to God: "You are my beloved Son...", declares the voice from heaven at the Jordan. The townsfolk in Nazareth, though, state that Jesus belongs to them and that he is dead ordinary: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary...". What is more significant here is that they "took offense at him".  Belonging to them meant staying where he had been - nailed into place within the bounds set by elders. Jesus had stepped beyond the life set down for him by his community. God has greater plans that that.

The worthies of Nazareth do not understand what the reader of Mark's Gospel will have understood: In God's hands, the humanity, the origins, the language and culture, the village education and even the intimate family connections of Jesus of Nazareth are a means God will use to move out beyond limits, to move the goal markers, to cross boundaries, to speak truth within a particular religious tradition in order that truth might be spoken within other cultures and religious traditions. Empires are overturned and subverted. The poor are given hope and the captives released. The particularity of Jesus' origins are not discarded even if he breaks the bonds of small town prejudice, even if he moves on, even if he leaves his village behind.

Take no offense at humble origins. God speaks to the world with a Galilean accent.