USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
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.
Good News Reflection: The prayer tears of rejection
How do you handle the times when your desire to serve God with your gifts and skills is met with a closed door? Or when you’re rejected for speaking the truth or for using your talents for the glory of God instead of some worldly purpose? What do you do when you know a problem can be resolved through the power of God — you know how and you know why — but your advice is ignored?
How did Jesus feel in today’s Gospel reading when he saw the need for his miraculous healing touch, but the people chose to suffer because they would not trust him? How do you think he feels when this happens today?
Sometimes all we can do is weep: Weep for the ignorance and the stubbornness of those who shut their ears and their hearts. Weep while praying for them. Each tear is a drop of prayer, precious to Jesus.
Personally, I don’t like to cry. My eyes get puffy, and I don’t want to draw attention to myself. Lord God, take away this ministry of tears! Yet, I have seen Jesus cry. The first time I saw this was when I visited a college professor-friend who was dying of cancer. He asked me if I, as a Christian, could heal him. I told him I could not, only Jesus could. My friend replied that he wanted no part in such fantasy. I just stood there and blinked. Jesus cried.
Rejected prophets must leave those who refuse to believe and seek out those who will listen. Jesus didn’t stay in Nazareth after his neighbors rejected his ministry. And he later told his disciples that instead of trying to nag and cajole others into believing, we’re to wipe the dirt from our shoes and walk away.
But even though we depart, we must continue to love and pray for those who’ve refused our ministry of love. It’s holy to feel the pain of their refusal — it’s the pain in their soul that we’re feeling, a pain created by the hole that’s eating away at their soul like an ulcer. Feeling their pain gives us tears for prayer.
When we give to Jesus our prayer-tears for others, we’re joining ourselves to his ministry. And by following him, we will arrive at a place where we will make a difference.
On a different topic, I’d like to explain that in verses 55 & 56, “brothers” and “sisters” means relatives, because I’m usually asked about it when this scripture comes up. Research this by going to Matthew 27:55-56, where it’s clear that the mother of James is not the mother of Jesus; James is not literally Jesus’ brother.
Perhaps he was a half-brother. Many early Christians believed so. In the “Protoevangelium of James,” an apocryphal Gospel written around A.D. 150, Joseph is named as the father of James by a deceased first wife. According to this book, by the time he became betrothed to Mary, he already had a family and thus was willing to become the guardian of a virgin who was consecrated to God. The Catholic Church teaches that Joseph remained chaste throughout his marriage to Mary.
Although the “Protoevangelium of James” was not accepted into the Canon of Scripture (the Bible), it is considered an apocryphal Gospel. It is neither accepted nor rejected as legitimate by the Church. Rather, the Church Magisterium recognizes it as a document that most early Christians took seriously. This is where we get the names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna.
It was common belief held by many early Christians that Jesus had brothers from his father but not his mother. All the early Christians believed that Mary was ever-virgin.
Lord: Open my eyes to discover Your works through the people around me. Give me strength, too, to continue proclaiming Your Word, even when I’m not understood by those people who share my everyday life. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica