Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown and among their own kin, and in their own house.” (Mark 6:1-13)
Today’s sermon by Father Merrow gave me a useful reminder that, as Christians, we are not always expected—or able—to achieve great feats of derring-do and that our toolbox for accomplishing great things really needs to only hold one thing—our faith. This is comforting as we go about and try to “fix” others’ problems as well as our own. We are constantly bombarded with “how-to” books or lectures or classes that present the five or 10 or 50 “secrets” that everyone needs to know to become that success in life you’ve always dreamed of being. Reading the Gospel from Mark and hearing it discussed in the sermon brought me down to earth sufficiently to realize that we can’t plan and prepare for everything, that at some point we have to go on faith, like the disciples did when they followed Jesus to his hometown and then went out on Jesus’s orders to cure the sick and urge repentance.
This sense of humility, girded by faith, can be especially useful at home or in our neighborhoods where our audience can be especially tough and skeptical. This is what Jesus seemed to face when he went back to his hometown, as described in Mark—the townspeople, many of whom must have long known Jesus and his family, “took offense at him” for daring to teach people he had grown up with. Many of us probably can relate to this in some degree—it’s easy to impress new or casual acquaintances, less so with people who have known us our whole life. My family and friends know me and my weaknesses and vulnerabilities too well and I will very often get a “who are you kidding?” response when I think I have some brilliant new thought or insight. This can easily spill over to colleagues at work or school who may appear to need our advice but often are not receptive.
When this happens to me—and it happens a lot—I can now think of this reading and Father Merrow’s sermon as a way remember that I can’t do it all or even some of it. You do what you can—and then trust in God and act on it. His power is great in our weakness.
How do I know that I am trying to do too much?
How do I deal with skepticism and even disbelief from those closest to me?
When will we know we are walking with Jesus and not ahead of him?