“Local boy makes good!”
I have always questioned the assumed cause and effect of a town’s claim on the success of its more renowned inhabitants. It is difficult to hypothesise that a childhood spent in the upstairs of an Ipswich butcher developed Wolsey’s mastery of political machination; or Marie Curie’s pioneering work owed much to Warsaw (indeed, she move to Paris to study)….
…..that Ed Sheeran wouldn’t be a world rock star if Roger Bigod hadn’t rebuilt Framlingham Castle; or that Julie Andrew’s wonderful voice is attributable to the south London primary school that both she and I attended: or perhaps it just didn’t work for me.
Hence in today’s gospel the often-criticised reticence of the Nazarenes was potentially well judged?
His mother had come from Nazareth. Joseph moved there when he married Mary. Other than a short stay in Bethlehem and another one in Egypt, Jesus had lived most of his thirty years there.
Just before the events of this gospel, Jesus had spent his 40 days in the wilderness, and for the time being had defeated the devil. He had preached in Galilee and had amazed the crowds with the power of his teaching. And then back home…..
On the sabbath day Jesus went to the synagogue, as “was His custom”. And, as was the right of any male, he requested to read and explain the Scripture. One presumes that despite the lack of social media His reputation was already known. The building would have been packed. The expectation high.
The reading went well. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…….”
It was the sermon where it all fell apart. You need to read on after today’s gospel finishes, but to abridge the next nine verses in a very unauthorised version, it
“was good to have the lad home, but it is well over the top for a carpenter’s son to claim to be the Messiah”.
It was a short home-coming.
How often do we subconsciously suppose that education, background, status or age limits the validity, import or significance of another’s interpretation of faith. We are treated at St Mary’s to a breadth of high-quality preaching from our ordained clergy and Reader. But none of them have ever suggested that the approach and understanding of others is devalued by a lack of formal study.
Today’s gospel has a message. A message we should heed particularly in this Week of Prayer for Church Unity.
God recognises faith of many colours in many people. Let us be encouraged each to share our hues. And to respect the palette of others.
As followers of Jesus, that we should each find the confidence of that carpenter’s son.
And be unafraid to challenge. And unafraid to be challenged.
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