Change from the ordinary MARK 6: 1–6
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus and the miracles He is performing among the people are rejected by those of His hometown because they identify Him as merely being the son of a carpenter.
Imagine yourself as being a member of that village in Nazareth, seeing Jesus grow up, assisting His father Joseph in his woodwork, knowing that neither He (Jesus) nor Joseph attended any popular school of eloquence where the wise and learned go.
From your lens, this Jesus boy you saw grow up in the village was like any other young boy who grew up there; there was nothing particularly special about Him. As far as you may have been concerned, He was ordinary.
And then, in the blink of an eye, you begin to hear all manner of things about Him. He is the talk of the town, teaching the people, standing up bravely to the religious leaders of the day, challenging the status quo and performing signs and wonders which can only be described as simply unbelievable.
This ordinary boy you claimed to know and consider as ordinary is now this extraordinary individual somehow and there’s no evidence to prove how He achieved such power, wisdom and popularity.
Do you know of anyone in your own community who stunned you like this? Maybe you can place yourself in the shoes of Jesus’ townsfolk in your very own life experience.
You witnessed first-hand the circumstances of their upbringing. Maybe they were extremely poor, a school drop-out, an addict, an ordinary man or woman, boy or girl from the “area” where you live and from whom you probably expected nothing great.
And then it happened, right under your nose and the noses of other members of the community as if you were all asleep. The individual miraculously rose up out of their seeming ordinariness and became extraordinary in some respect or began operating in extraordinary ways. Where on earth did it all come from? What happened? How is it that they “change jus’ so”?
Perhaps, on the other hand, you can relate more to Jesus as being the one whom your relatives, neighbours, close friends, co-workers or countrymen have rejected because you have stepped out to become different from them in some way, more focused on your goals, more hard working, more centred on higher things.
At one time you were just like them, you were a part of their company, sharing similar ideals and perspectives about life; but now, you’re a different individual: you dress differently, you speak differently, you behave differently, and your interests have changed. You’re no longer part of the posse or crew. Things you once did with them you do them no more.
You’re an entirely different person and as a result, they reject you. They cast you away because they do not understand who you’ve become. This remarkable change in you is downplayed and described as a phase or a pretense. “It won’t last” they say. “How could it be real?”
When we are very close to or with people, or we claim to know them because we have spent a significant length of time with and around them, it is sometimes very hard to see them change and improve their lives while we remain stuck where we are. Their achievements and progress sometimes show up our laziness and unwillingness to change.
We ourselves may feel rejected by and envious of them because it appears that they have “left us behind”. It is very important to note that no matter how close we are to others, each of us has our own particular life journey to walk and unique purpose to fulfil.
Sometimes, this journey to our “self-actualisation” may take us along roads we must walk alone and apart from family and friends to return wiser and more connected to our unique gifts and potential for the work of service we are called to.
When we have steps like these to make in life, we run the risk of being rejected as Jesus was in today’s gospel, but the higher purpose we are being called to fulfil is always greater than being accepted by others.
The Gospel Meditations for July are by Denzil Williams, Moderator for Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Southern Vicariate. He has been actively engaged with delivering talks and facilitating workshops and retreats for over ten years within faith-based organisations and schools across Trinidad and Tobago. He also is the author of two self-help books, The Gift of Emotional Pain and The Spirituality of the Obvious.
By Denzil Williams