Jealous Judgement

Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said,
“Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter’s son?
Is not his mother named Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?
Are not his sisters all with us?
Where did this man get all this?”
And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and in his own house.”
And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
(Matthew 13:54-58)

Scripture Study

13:54–58. The Nazarenes’ surprise is partly due to people’s difficulty in recognizing anything exceptional and supernatural in those with whom they have been on familiar terms. Hence the saying, “No one is a prophet in his own country.” These old neighbors were also jealous of Jesus. Where did he acquire this wisdom? Why him rather than us? They were unaware of the mystery of Jesus’ conception; surprise and jealousy cause them to be shocked, to look down on Jesus and not to believe in him: “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not” (Jn 1:11).

“The carpenter’s son”: this is the only reference in the Gospel to St Joseph’s occupation (in Mk 6:3 Jesus himself is described as a “carpenter”). Probably in a town like Nazareth the carpenter was a general tradesman who could turn his hand to jobs ranging from metalwork to making furniture or agricultural implements.

Scripture Reflection

This Gospel begins as Jesus returns to his “native place.” Rather than being proud of Jesus and his intelligence and wisdom, some of his neighbors and relatives took offense at him. I wonder: were they jealous of Jesus? Did they think that Jesus thought that he was better than they were? Or were they envious of him? By their words and actions, they scorned Jesus! And thus, he was not able to work any great deeds there. Their lack of faith was too deep!

Take a moment and “put on the mind and heart of Jesus.” Imagine the emotions that must have raced through Jesus during this encounter. He was so happy to be home. Jesus loved his hometown. And he loved the people of the town. And yet, they could not accept who he had become. They wanted him to remain as he was when he lived among them. Were they jealous? Or were they intimidated by this side of Jesus? Would they not accept him as he was? Could they not love him as a neighbor and kinsman?

Do we ever shun or judge people who seem to be more than we think they should be? I assume we all do! At times, we have judged another before we are aware of judging them. At these moments, we have a choice: to continue judging them or to choose to let go of our judgment when we realize that we are judging the individual. The choice is always ours to make.

Today may we consciously and deliberately “put on the mind and heart of Jesus.” If we do so, we may find that we are more peaceful, gracious and loving! We also may be more joyful and light-hearted! And we may receive more gifts than we have given!

– Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.