There is an old idiom: “familiarity breeds contempt” or when we think we know someone, the more likely we are to find fault with them. We may “box” them into our expectations of them in our limited little world of understanding of them without our really knowing them. Who do I/we “box” in by my limited understanding of that person?
Unfortunately we still see these tendencies today to continue to divide us because someone has a beard, wears untidy clothes, dresses in a burka, laughs or speaks in a certain way. Or the person may be liberal, conservative, democrat, republican or whatever. Let’s face it, we all make judgements about those closest to us or those not so close. Our lack of openness to the other can limit so many new relationships and experiences because we fall into that all too human fault of judging. We think we know all there is to know about them before we have really gotten to know them…to listen with the “ear of our heart to them”.
The tendency to judge others rashly and close off our relationship with the other is not a new human phenomenon; in fact it is as old as the Gospel from Mark today. Jesus’ hometown friends and neighbors were sure they knew him. After all, they knew his origins, he was the son of a carpenter, they knew his Mama, his sisters and brothers, he was just like them. There was nothing special about this boy from Nazareth. They knew him…or so they thought. “When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.” They said, “Where did this man get all this?” They knew ‘about’ Jesus, but they did not really know of his passionate love for the Will and Heart of His Father/Mother God. They really did not know his love for each of them, his critics.
The Gospel for this Sunday calls and challenges us to really go deeper in our relationship with Jesus, to experience his unconditional love, mercy and compassionate care for each of us. Perhaps that was what Jesus was preaching about in the synagogue and they couldn’t handle such a message of love so they found fault with the messenger. Let us be open to receive all the love that God wants to pour into our hearts through Jesus. May we be impelled by this Word of God’s love for us.
Rose Ann Barmann, OSB