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  • Fr. John Jennings

Our Sacred Stories ~ Familiarity Breeds Contempt or Dismissal

“My children know me so well, even too well.  They are the ones who see me in my slippers.”  Children often know their parents in their “ordinariness” – the good, the bad and the ugly.  In some ways, this was the challenge faced by the Old Testament prophets like Ezekiel or Jeremiah.  It was likewise the hurdle that Jesus faced as he came with his disciples to his hometown.  “Where did this man get all this?...  Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James,…  A Prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown, and among his own kin, and in his own house (Mark 6:1-6).

I love to travel and I think I share this love with many others.  We have this drive to see other places, other peoples.  It is often said that travel broadens and helps us to appreciate different cultures and ways of life.  Very quickly, we come to realize that things are not always the way they are at home.

At the same time, travel often helps us to appreciate what we have at home.  Frequently, what is all around us all the time becomes so familiar, so ordinary, that we take it for granted.  We fail to appreciate the wonder that is right before our eyes.  This is what we see in Mark’s Gospel.  Those that Jesus encounters are dismissive of his message and his mission.

Throughout the gospels this is a common experience.  Those that Jesus encountered were often unable to hear his message, let alone accept his mission.  Many rejected him as counter to their own experience and traditions.  Change as it often does, made them uncomfortable and Jesus’s message and mission called them, provoked them to see differently.

Jesus and such prophets as Ezekiel (Ezekiel 2:3-5) all faced resistance.  Yet, by word and action, they acted to share the message of God’s presence.  Jesus included others in his mission, he gathered disciples around him.  Despite even their reluctance and often their resistance, he proclaimed that God’s reign is among us.  This is the fundamental Good News that Jesus shared with his disciples.  Then, and now it is often a struggle to recognize the Good News in the world around us.

There is in all of us a blindness that blocks our recognition of the wonder of God and the presence of God expressed in all that is around us.  Some of our inability to see comes from being so busy.  Our attention is so focused on what we have to do that we cannot look around and see what is happening in our lives.  Yet the presence of God is all around us always.

Our vision is dependent on the spirit of the Risen Jesus a Spirit that is ever with us.  In some ways, perhaps this presence can be so common that we do not notice it.  Jesus reveals and speaks the message of the Kingdom in every act of love, every experience of compassion, every moment of mercy and care.  We do not see what is right before our eyes.

Summer can be a time when the busyness tails off.  It may be an opportunity to look around in different places, with different persons.  We might even discover, or rediscover those everyday places, those common experiences and those familiar people who are always with us and whom we take for granted.  These can be the prophets among us.  With open eyes, hearts and minds, we may discover Jesus, and a message of love and compassion in the ordinary of our lives.  We may also discover the blessings that we can be for one another.

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