The Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 13:54-58)
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue.
They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds?
Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?”
And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there
because of their lack of faith.
Encountering Christ: Today’s Gospel goes on to say that the people in Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth took offense at Him, which led Jesus to say, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” It is somewhat surprising that they took offense at Jesus after witnessing His wisdom and mighty deeds. Jesus was very familiar to the townspeople, and it seems that that familiarity led them to doubt that Jesus was someone special.
It should be noted that, in many ways, the people who knew Jesus for many years should have been the first people to see His greatness. And most likely there were some from His hometown who did. They would have known Jesus’ mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and she would have given daily witness to incredible virtues. They would have known Joseph as a truly righteous and just man. And Jesus would have exuded every human virtue to perfection as He grew, and, again, that should have been easily noticeable. But many failed to see the holiness of Jesus and the Holy Family.
This experience of our Lord should remind us that it is easy to miss the presence of God all around us. If those who were closest to Jesus did not recognize Him as a man of exceptional virtue and holiness, then how much more might we fail to see the presence of God in the lives of those we encounter every day? For some reason, perhaps because of our struggles with pride and anger, it is easier to look at the faults of another than at their virtues. It’s easy to be critical of them and to dwell upon their perceived weaknesses and sins. But this Gospel story should encourage us to do all we can to look beyond the surface and to see God present in every life we encounter.
On the most fundamental level, God dwells within each and every person He has created. Even those who remain in a state of persistent mortal sin are still made in the image of God and reflect God by their very nature. And we must see this. And those who are in a state of grace carry the presence of God, not only within themselves by nature but also through God’s action in their lives. Every virtue that every person has is there because God is at work in them. And we must work to see this divine activity in their lives.
Begin by thinking about the people with whom you are closest. When you think about them, what comes to mind? Over the years, we can build habits of dwelling upon others’ faults. And those habits are hard to break. But they can only be broken by intentionally seeking out the presence of God in their lives. As noted, if Jesus’ own townspeople had a difficult time doing this with Him Who was perfect, then this should tell us that it will be even harder for us to do with those who lack perfection. But it must be done and is a very holy endeavor.
Closing Prayer: My Lord of true greatness, You are truly present all around me. You are alive and living in the lives of those whom I encounter every day. Please give me the eyes of faith to see You and a heart that loves You. Help me to overlook the faults and weaknesses of others. Jesus, I trust in You.
Action: Reflect, today, upon the important mission you have been given to see the presence of God in the lives of those all around you.