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Hometown boy did not fit image of Messiah

Based on Jer 1:4-5, 17-19; 1 Cor 12:31—13:13; Lk 4:21-30

Too close to recognize the Messiah. Last week Jesus returned to Nazareth, his hometown, and read from the Scriptures in the synagogue. This Sunday’s Gospel tells us what happened next.

After Jesus had spoken, the people talked about him and were excited about his preaching. They had heard about the miracles he performed in other places. They also kept asking, “Isn’t he the son of Joseph, the carpenter?”

The Bible translates the Greek word tekton as carpenter to describe the work done by Joseph and Jesus. A tekton was a skilled worker who used many tools and materials, including stone and wood. Houses in Nazareth had stone or mud-brick walls. Wood was used for roof beams, doorframes and doors.

Joseph and Jesus probably did all of the building and handyman work in Nazareth because at Jesus’ time the population of Nazareth numbered 120 to 150 people. There were no power tools. The wood pieces and stone blocks were cut and shaped with hand tools. Joseph and Jesus then wrestled the wood beams and stone blocks into place.

When Jesus was preaching and performing miracles, he was calling people to change their sinful ways, to be open to God’s forgiveness and love and to share that love and goodness with others.

The people marveled at his preaching. But when Jesus read a passage from the book of Isaiah that spoke of the Messiah and then said he is the Messiah – that was too much for them.

Because Jesus was a hometown boy and worked among them, because he did not fit into their idea of a powerful Messiah with military and political might, and because Jesus told them the Good News is for all people and not just for the Jews, the people of Nazareth got angry and wanted to push him off a cliff. But Jesus slipped through the crowd and escaped.

Jesus was sad and disappointed at the people’s lack of faith. He left Nazareth and spent time teaching, preaching and performing miracles in the neighboring villages.

We can welcome Jesus by listening to his word at Mass, by receiving him in Communion, by seeing him in the love of family and others around us and by seeing him in all of creation.

Each day as we say the Apostles Creed, or each time we say the Nicene Creed at Mass, we are saying, “Jesus, we believe in you.” Jesus, help our faith to grow.