Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Assumptions and Expectations

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.  They said, “Where did this man get all this?  What kind of wisdom has been given him?  What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon?  And are not his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him.  Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”  So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.  He was amazed at their lack of faith.  (Mark 6:1-6)

Open my eyes, Lord
I want to see your face
Open my eyes, Lord
Help me to see
(from “Open My Eyes, Lord,” Jesse Manibusan)

Five years ago, a middle-aged, frumpy looking woman from a village in Scotland came out on stage on “Britain’s Got Talent.”  The rude sounds from the audience and the expressions on the judges’ faces said it all.  They expected nothing much based on her appearance.  Were they ever shocked when Susan Boyle began to sing and out came a beautiful mezzo-soprano rendition of “I’ve Got a Dream” from “Les Misérables!”  Those who moments earlier “knew” what they were going to get, in reality, had no idea at all.

The same thing happens to Jesus.  His family and friends don’t expect much when he returns to his village and speaks at the local synagogue on the Sabbath.  After all, they know Jesus, or they assume they do.  He’s just one of them, a carpenter by trade.  But when Jesus opens his mouth and words begin to flow, they are amazed.  Who does he think he is, spouting all this wisdom, talking about mighty deeds done in his Father’s name?  This guy’s gotten uppity since he’s been gone and they’re offended by that.  They’re sure they know the real Jesus, but the irony is that the hometown crowd doesn’t know him at all.  Their hearts are closed.  The Lord finds he can perform no great deeds at home.  There’s no faith found in his little village, and the reading ends on a sad note.

It’s just as much a shame when you and I make false assumptions in our faith lives.  Isn’t it tragic, for example, when we expect condemnation for our sins and, thus, miss seeing Christ before us, arms wide open, waiting to embrace and forgive us?  Isn’t it a pity when we’re so attuned to the sounds of our self-loathing that we miss hearing God call us his beloved son or daughter?  Isn’t it a shame when we spend so much time treasuring our possessions, expecting them to fulfill our every need, that we don’t even hear Jesus’ invitation to set it all aside and follow him to eternal life?

When you pray today, ask God to open your eyes, your ears, and your heart to the reality of his love and mercy.

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