“When Jesus had finished these parables, he left that place. He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13:53-58)
WHAT DEEDS OF POWER ARE WE MISSING?
It turns out that some of the people who were most skeptical of and offended by Jesus were the people with whom he had grown up - the people who knew him, his parents, his brothers, and his sisters.
“Hey, I was with Jesus in Hebrew School from first grade and all the way through high school, and now he is preaching in all the synagogues? I don’t remember being that impressed with him or his family. What gives?” Or, as they put it, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power?” (see above)
It makes me wonder what healing, amazing teaching, or other “deeds of power” we miss because our hearts and minds and ears are not open, because we have assessed another person and found him or her to be not worthy of our time. They are from the wrong part of the country or from the wrong country. They are too soft-spoken, too loud, too pushy, not pushy enough, of the wrong race, of the wrong religion, dressed too poorly, dressed too richly, their hair is too long, their hair is too short, they went to the wrong school, they didn’t have enough schooling, they have a funny accent, their first language is not English, they are too young, they are too old, etc., etc., etc.
What opportunities for transformation and healing... what opportunities to be on the receiving end of deeds of power are we missing because the teacher/healer/sage does not meet our pre-established list of what traits they should have? More than that, from what people do we tend to take offense, even when they are not giving offense?
After reading the story of Jesus and the people of Nazareth, I wonder about these kinds of things.
I leave you with three quotes which I believe are related to this reading:
“Suspicion will always find evidence for what it suspects.” (Richard Rohr)
“We cause as much pain by taking offense, as by giving it.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
“Sin happens whenever we refuse to keep growing.” (St. Gregory of Nyssa - 4th century)