Who Do You Think You Are?

"And they took offense at him" (Matt 13:54)

A priest friend who ministered as a counselor in a small city said he knew it was time to move on when he knew too much about everyone. He couldn't go to a restaurant without running into couples who were stepping out on their spouses. He had had several generations in counseling from the same family and knew all the dark secrets.

St. John Vianney, known as the Cure of Ars, would  have had the same burden after hearing the confessions of everyone in Ars or in the region, He must have had to bite his tongue as he recognized the interlocking sins and failures of hundreds of people who confessed to him. 

Jesus returns to his native place, and he impresses everyone with his eloquence and miraculous powers. But, as they realize that he is that home town kid they know everything about, they take offense at him for putting on airs. Who does he think he is? They know he is just a carpenter, and all his relatives are their neighbors. As the old saying goes, "familiarity breeds contempt." 

The tragedy was that because the home town crowd suspended their belief and could not participate in the miracles they hoped Jesus would perform for them, no miracles were possible. The role of faith -- their part in opening the way for God to act in their lives, was withdrawn, and lowered expectations limited what might have happened if they had surrendered themselves to God. 

Jesus wants to come our own home town, to the intimate relationships of family and friends, colleagues and coworkers-- the people who are most familiar to us. Believing that something major can happen in these close relationships is harder than believing that great things can happen to other people in other places.  But home is where we need the miracles most, the healings, the reconciliations and the chances to start over.  The carpenter is in town, the healer of hearts and the source of infinite mercy available to all.  Whoever you are, before God you are always beloved.