How Dare You? - A Reflection on Mark 6:1-6
He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
I recently had dinner with a beautiful couple who are involved in marriage ministry and during the course of the evening they shared some of the obstacles they face when trying to get their programs to help married couples started. They said: “Everyone can see that marriages are in trouble these days, but rather than invite us to help couples who are struggling, we are told there isn’t any room for us or our programs.”
I can empathize. Not everybody welcomes advice or assistance and one only has to look at what happened to Jesus here to understand why. His townspeople came to listen to him, and would undoubtedly have applauded him loudly had he not said anything controversial. But not only did he say things that were very different from what they had believed in all these years, he was backing them up with deeds of great power. So they took offense. Why? Because of a potent mix of arrogance and jealousy.
It’s like this. Let us say that I’m running a program and have been doing it for years. It worked very well when I started it, because it was fresh and new and people were greatly impacted with it. However, as the years changed, people changed, the culture changed, the environment changed, but the program didn’t adapt. So numbers start to dwindle and I think there is something wrong with people, not with the program.
So when somebody comes in with some new and fresh, just like I had a few years ago, I think, “How dare he come in and try to change things?” It’s human nature. It’s exactly what people thought about Jesus. “How dare he come here and say all these things! He is putting us to shame!” But that is not the only thing that they are thinking. They are also thinking: “How dare God use him when we have been here serving him all these years. And how dare God put us to shame!”
So what do we do, those of us who face these “new kids on the block”? We welcome them and we welcome the assistance they can provide. After all, our goal is to grow the kingdom of God right? And the more hands on board the lighter the load, right? And what about those of us who find our passage blocked? Let me paraphrase the words of the wise Gamaliel. “If your purpose or activity is of human origin it may fail. If it is from God, nothing will be able to stop you” (cf. Acts 5:33-39).
I hope there is something for everybody in today’s reflection. God bless us all.