Prejudice and Humility


Mark 6: 1-6
2Sm 24:2,9-17 / Ps 32

A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.
(Mark 6:4)

Like Jesus we are not always free
From the prejudice of our own kin;
Contempt comes from familiarity,
But humility keeps us from sin.

After healing Jairus’ daughter, Jesus came into His own hometown of Nazareth, with His disciples following Him. And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at Him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household.’ And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And He wondered at their unbelief. (Mark 6:1-6)

Reflection

A certain author once said, “Miracles do not evoke faith so much as faith evokes miracles.” The cold reception that our Lord received in His own hometown of Nazareth did not evoke wondrous miracles as in the place that He had just left where a hemorrhaging woman was healed of her disorder, and the dead daughter of a synagogue official was brought back to life, all because of their faith.

Another adage says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” The folks at Nazareth were familiar with Jesus and His family. They were aware that His father, Joseph, was just a mere carpenter, and His mother a humble and quiet housewife. “So where does this son of a carpenter get all His knowledge and healing powers?” They all wondered. “No, he’s just one of us. He can’t possibly be a prophet, much less the Messiah!” Because of His townfolks’ skepticism and prejudice, Mark said Jesus could not work much miracles there. It was as if His hands were bound by their unbelief.

It is perhaps typical of the so-called crab mentality that people tend to disparage the accomplishments of a local boy returning to his hometown. Only when one has achieved the status of a Manny Pacquiao or Lea Salonga does one enjoy the adulation and praise of childhood friends and relatives. But Jesus teaches us to be humble in the face of such criticism or prejudice. Even when He was rejected by His own hometown, He did not use His powers to “show them” as some of us would have done to prove ourselves. He teaches us not to seek honor for ourselves, because the only honor we should strive for is what we hope to receive from the Father when we have found true humility. The writer of Hebrews cites discipline as the necessary ingredient for us to withstand the prejudice and criticisms of others. He said, “Endure your trials as “discipline”, God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Heb.12:7). A humble man’s life is one ruled by discipline.

Lord, let me not seek the honor and praise of men; but just grant me the grace to act according to Your Will, and be pleasing to You in everything that I do. “For as a father has compassion on his children, so You, O Lord have compassion on those who are faithful” (Psa. 103:13). Amen.

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