- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily for July 30, 2021 – Friday the 17th Week in Ordinary Time

Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

Leviticus 23: 1, 4 – 11, 15 – 16, 27, 34b – 37; Ps. 81; Matthew 13: 54 – 58

Jesus’ presence and teaching at first filled the people with astonishment and then, astonishment, admiration became anger, they took offense at Him. They knew hIm as the carpenter’s son; his mother, brothers, and sisters were their neighbors, common folk like themselves but Jesus’ wisdom and mighty deeds completely baffled them, where did all this come from?

Surely, Jesus’ family, at least some of them, were present in the synagogue and witnessed the angry crowd. One can wonder about how they felt, what did they take from this very unpleasant experience? We are not told but we can presume that it was kind of a nightmare, a terrible embarrassment.

In the Gospels, there are a few passages about Jesus’ family, not enough to satisfy natural curiosity. St. Matthew reports, “He was still addressing the crowds when His mother and brothers appeared outside to speak with Him” – but we are not told what they had to say – were they concerned about him, his needs?

St. Mark reports another scene – a troubling one – “He returned to the house with them (His disciples) and again the crowd assembled, making it impossible for them to get any food. When His family heard this they came to take charge of Him saying, ‘He is out of His mind’.” They needed to control Him.

Romano Guardini in his book The Lord makes this statement, “..it is as if everywhere He went, barriers were laid across his path – narrowness, pettiness, misunderstanding all along the line, and suspicion and envy.” Again and again, the leaders attempted and failed to entrap Him, to maneuver Him by misleading questions. Guardini writes; “The loneliness and isolation of this Son of God in chains is terrible to see.” When Jesus called people to take up their cross, He readily knew what the cross means.

Where are we in all this? We are the family of the Lord Jesus by adoption, baptized into a very sacred relationship with Him. Looking into our own relationship with the Lord – is there an openness, a desire to live His word seriously – is there some kind of control, of taking charge of Him because of a fear of being asked too much? We can avoid the questions or take them to heart – depending on where we are in our relationship and, of course, where we desire to be.