Reflection on 14th Sunday: 4th July 2021

Astonishment and Wisdom

The people of Nazareth are astonished by Jesus’ teaching and the miracles worked through him. Yet they do not accept him. Astonishment and wonder can lead us to opening our whole being to the ‘mystery of who we are because we are inescapably related to Ultimate Mystery which is revealed to us through the ordinary. The people are stunned because they believe the familiar, the ordinary excludes the extraordinary. For them, God only works through special or learned or official people. This carpenter son of Mary is simply not eligible. The people resist the invitation of God to experience that we are more than what other people think we are, and more that what we ourselves think we are. And each person we meet is more than what we think they are.’1

“What is this wisdom that has been granted him?” The people recognise the wisdom with which Jesus speaks. Yet they reject him. This comes as no surprise when we reflect on wisdom teaching. ‘The teaching of the Old Testament prophets was close to this but their mode of teaching was usually one of divine proclamation: ‘Thus says the Lord…” We see this in today’s first reading. However, in the Jewish tradition, wisdom teaching works with stories or parables that are meant to short-circuit our usual mode of categories of perception. Jesus wants to break us out of that part of our mind that wants to calculate or quantify and he wants to break us into an open heart. Wisdom teaching focuses on the gentle but hard work of inner transformation, which is more difficult than spending energy making sure we believe the right things. Cynthia Bourgeault writes: ‘Wisdom is not about knowing more but about knowing more deeply. The spiritual practices of attention and surrender are the riverbanks between which Wisdom flows through the channel of our open hearts.’ This is how Jesus lived: fully present and fully surrendered to what love asked of him moment by moment.2 Jesus’ invitation to the people of Nazareth, and to us, is to leave the path of labels, boxes and prejudice and to rather walk with him on the path of openness to transformation, the path of Wisdom.

Adapted: [1] John Shea [2] Matthew Wright

First Reading Ezekiel 2:2-5

The spirit came into me and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me. He said, “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me. Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me. The sons are defiant and obstinate; I am sending you to them, to say, ‘The Lord says this, “Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.”

Gospel Mark 6.1-6

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were amazed when they heard him. They said, “Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?” And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is only despised in his own country, among his own relations and in his own house”, and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.