"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 disbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching."
- Mark 6:3-6
Jesus is back in Nazareth and experiences rejection, harsh judgments, and contempt. Those closest to him dismiss him as just a lowly carpenter, a working man with little formal education from an insignificant family. This blatant rejection and inability to believe in Him hindered the people’s ability ( and our ability) to receive God’s love, healing power and support. In the face of such rejection, does Jesus give up, become fearful, complain, argue, become angry or depressed? No, he continues to act, withdraws from his family and his hometown and goes forth with his disciples into new communities to be speakers and doers of the word in establishing the “kingdom of God” and breaking down the status quo.
- When have I reduced a person to a single attribute in order to dismiss and reject them?
- When have I been dismissive, threatened or judgmental because of someone’s background, education, skin color or orientation?
- When have I failed to look at the whole person that God has created because of my fear, ignorance or suspicion?
Change is not only possible, it’s happening. If you want to read about and experience God’s unconditional love and compassion at work in our world today, I suggest a book “Tattoos on the Heart” by Fr. Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest at Dolores Mission Church and founder of Homeboy Industries in the gang capital of the world in Los Angeles California. Homeboy Industries employs only gang members in its various business that include a bakery, tattoo removal, landscaping, and cafes. It was founded in 1992, burned to the ground in 1999, and was rebuilt. In the early days, when protests and death threats ensued and many in the community wanted to shut it down, a few influential women came forward and proclaimed: “We help gang members at this parish because it is what Jesus would do”. Andy Thayer, our Rector, has visited Homeboy Industries and seen it firsthand as a possible model for what we could do here at Trinity.
In the preface of the book, Fr. Boyle writes, "Our common human hospitality longs to find room for those who are left out. It’s just who we are if allowed to foster something different, something more greatly resembling what God had in mind. Perhaps, together, we can teach each other how to bear the beams of love, persons becoming persons, right before our eyes. Returned to ourselves.”
Dear Loving God, inspired by your boundless compassion and unconditional love, continue to guide us in ways to love our neighbor, do justice and walk humbly with you. Help us to remain faithful and persistent and continue to remind us that we belong to each other; that when we show hospitality to an outcast, to one left out, “It’s just who we are … something more greatly resembling what God had in mind. Amen.