14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 8, 2012)

For the last two weeks, the South Bend Tribune has had a series on the weight-loss trails and travails of a lady named Kimmie. Years of diet failures finally convinced Kimmie to opt for a new kind of bariatric surgery. It was risky, and there were numerous setbacks. Sunday’s chapter was titled: “Who am I?” After shedding 180 pounds, Kimmie “looks in the mirror [and] doesn’t recognize the person looking back at her. ‘I’ve really struggled with identity,’ she says. ‘I’ve wondered who the heck am I now?'” Her family and friends have struggled as well.

This series came immediately to mind when I read this coming Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus returns to Nazareth and preaches in the synagogue. He certainly received a mixed welcome: there was awe and wonder, as well as disbelief and rejection.

Why the latter? The townspeople defended their reaction to Jesus by saying that they knew all about Jesus. They knew His mother and other members of His family. They knew His occupation to be that of a carpenter, that as far as they knew, He had never studied in the rabbinical school. It was incomprehensible to them that He could teach with such confidence and authority. There must be some mistake. Jesus didn’t fit the mold. He had changed … radically so. He wasn’t what they expected (Footnote: kinda reminds me of what Justice Roberts must be going through!).

Not only was Jesus exercising a new and unexpected role in His hometown, but He was also asking the people to look at their world in a new way. Most likely, Jesus was telling them that God loved each one of them, that no one was excluded from that love. Health and wealth were not necessarily signs of God’s favor, and poverty and sickness were not signs of God’s displeasure. This was not the usual message they got from their synagogue leaders.

No one likes change. It is frightening to some, inconvenient to others. The usual course is to reject the agent of change … and that’s something we do quite readily, to our detriment! May the Spirit of God help us deal with this.

Stay cool, y’hear!

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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