Monthly Archives: January 2018

Mark 6: Rejected at Nazareth

Our gospel reading at Mass today is from the 6th chapter of Mark. “Jesus departed from there and came to his native place accompanied by his disciples.” (Mark 6, 1)

Where was Jesus coming from when he came to Nazareth, his home town? From Capernaum where, in Mark’s gospel, he had just brought back the daughter of Jairus from the dead and healed the woman who touched his garment. (Mark 5, 21-43) That news surely reached Nazareth, but the people there aren’t impressed.

When Jesus goes into their synagogue on the Sabbath, they’re initially impressed by his teaching and by news of “his might deeds” but then they remember he’s “‘the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses 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)

Over and over, Mark’s gospel says that Jesus was rejected in the places where he went After his baptism in the Jordan, he went to Capernuam where, in one paradigmatic day, he drives out an unclean spirit and cures Peter’s mother-in-law and at the end of the day, the whole town is at his door. {Mark 1, 16-34) The enthusiasm doesn’t last, however. Capernaum and other nearby towns in Galilee receive him first, then reject him. (Matthew 11,23)

Even when Jesus crosses over the Sea of Galilee to pagan territory on the west bank he meets rejection. (Mark 5, 1-20) He casts out the unclean spirit, as he did at Capernaum, but when the pigs stampede down into the sea the townspeople ask him to leave. He’s endangering their economy, it seems.

Jesus doesn’t have continual success in his ministry. He doesn’t have an unbroken parade of achievements, his life is not a road of triumph, Mark insists.

Mark’s gospel is centered on the Passion of Jesus, a lifelong mystery. It’s greatest expression is found on Calvary, but it takes different forms through life, especially forms of rejection and lack of acceptance.

Humanity is fickle and prone to doubt.

Behind Mark’s gospel, we can see the persecution of Christians in Rome by Nero in 63 AD. A church rejected, accused of evil, betrayed even by some of its own members. The persecution made no sense.

Mark writes for them. Jesus goes before you; follow him. Mark writes for us. Jesus goes before you; follow him.

You may be interested in the Neronian persecution. Here’s a video:

Pray for Andrew

by Fr.James Barry, CP

Last summer I visited the Shrine of the American Jesuit Martyrs at Auriesville, New York. I went into the large circular Indian Chapel to pray and light a candle, only few people around.

In came a couple with their son Andrew and his grandparents who came up to the altar to pray. Andrew, a four year old child, was suffering from a serious brain disease which the doctors could not identify. He would go into seizures and flail around and cry out for help and then it would go on for a while and stop. They wanted me to pray over this child and anoint him with sacred oil of the sick, which I did, and he seemed to calm for a while but it did little to help him.

I could see on the faces of the parents and grandparents the pain they were suffering for this child; they have been to the Mayo clinic, Mass General, Johns Hopkins , Baltimore and they keep trying for a cure and spending everything they have to help this child.

In the Gospel from Mark for today the man possessed was a member of a family; very possible family members put him in chains and restraints so that he would not harm himself, but he broke the chains. A spirit spoke to Jesus. “What have you to do with me Jesus, Son of the most high God, do not torment me.”

Jesus calls out “Unclean spirit come out of the man; what is your name?” “LEGION” he says, “and there are many of us…..send us into the swine” which Jesus does and 2000 swine rush over the cliff and drown.

The healed man wants to follow Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go home and be with his family and proclaim the good news about what has happened to them. Jesus notices the man’s family and wants them to be healed as well, for they have suffered much with this man.

We’re called to pray and bless all those who come to us and are suffering, We don’t always know how. God willing, may we help someone who is suffering now.

Recently I sent the blessed oil of St. Charles Houben, a Passionist healing saint, to that family I met. I ask you to pray that the fullness of God’s healing may be upon Andrew, his mom and dad and grandparents. They are wonderful people and deserve our love.