Loving Those Closest

View the readings for this Sunday.

Sunday, July 8 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
• Ez 2:2-5
• Ps 123:1-2, 2, 3-4
• 2 Cor 12:7-10
• Mk 6:1-6

In the Gospel reading this weekend, Jesus returns home to Nazareth, but not for rest and recreation. He arrives as a rabbi, intent on proclaiming the Kingdom of God to His own family, friends, and neighbors.

But Nazareth treats Him differently than any other town in Galilee. His fellow Nazarites "were astonished" (Mk 6:2) by His teaching, even taking offense to it.

They said, "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" (Mk 6:2-3)

To them, He was just Jesus, a simple carpenter from a family they knew. He likely built their homes, mended their roofs, and repaired their chicken coops. They could not believe that a working man, whom they watched grow up, could have something so important to say, never mind the power to save the world from sin and death. Thus, Jesus' family, friends, and neighbors misunderstood and rejected Him as if He were crazy.

Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house" (Mk 6:4).

Jesus likely knew beforehand that His own hometown would reject Him. But He had to tell them the truth anyway. The first reading speaks to this, "Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD! And whether they heed or resist - for they are a rebellious house - they shall know that a prophet has been among them" (Ez 2:4-5).

Like Jesus and the prophets, when we speak the truth to those closest to us, we make ourselves vulnerable to rejection - vulnerable to being misunderstood. But we must not let fear of being misunderstood keep us from saying the truth when appropriate.

Due to the Nazarites' lack of faith, the Gospel says, "He was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people" (Mk 6:5). The Lord wanted to heal His family, friends, and neighbors, and tell them the truth about who He is. But their hardened hearts could not receive His healing.

Jesus, however, did not get offended - He did not stop loving them.

We, on the other hand, have the natural tendency to become frustrated when someone close to us rejects something truthful we want them to understand.

Still, we must not let their rejection of us deter our love for them.

In her Diary, St Faustina says, "O my Jesus, when I am misunderstood and my soul is in anguish, I want to stay a while alone with You. The words of mortals give me no comfort" (1462).

When our family and friends reject us - something we believe, say, or do- we might feel as St. Faustina did, as if no mortal could console us.

But God always can. He accepts us and understands us better than anyone else can.

If you're having trouble loving the people in your life who have most often misunderstood you and rejected you, cast your heavy burden upon the Lord. Only He can give you consolation and rest and recreate you in the person He intended you to be.

View the previous Sunday Scripture Preview.

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