One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

+ + +

The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

July 08, 2006

For the Fourteenth Ordinary Sunday of the Church Year

Mark 6:1-6

The Nazareth neighbors of Christ acknowledge the wisdom they hear when he teaches in their house of worship.
They also know he has the power to work wonders.
They have probably heard he even raised a dead girl back to life just the day before.
Unfortunately, it is precisely because they think of him as a mere neighbor and blue-collar worker that they refuse to give him the credit, the acceptance and the faith that his miraculous works and wisdom have earned practically everywhere else.
Where hearts are closed and faithless, no mighty wonders can happen for us, even if they happen for others.
Our Lord is unwilling to force miracles upon the people of Nazareth.
In fact, the Gospel today testifies that he was not able— he did not have power— to perform any mighty deed in Nazareth.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.

They closed their hearts and minds.
So he extended his healing mercy only upon a few sick people.
The shutting of the human mind and heart— it was this shutting that the Son of God faced and took upon himself in becoming a man like us.
In Christ who grew up in Nazareth, in Christ the hearts and minds of all humanity are open again: open in the openness and obedience of Christ to his mission, obedience even unto death, death on the Cross, the Cross where even his heart of flesh is stabbed open by the blade of a spear.
The God Man with the Eternally Open Heart grew up in a town of closed hearts.
Except for the open hearts of Joseph and Mary!
The Gospel shows those two as:
either receiving an invitation from God calling for an open heart;
or answering and obeying God with an open heart.
When Joseph and Mary lost and found the ancient twelve year old, he invited them to open themselves to his mission.
Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?

The ancient and eternally new heart of the Son of the Most High was also open to Joseph and Mary.
The Gospel tells us:
he went down with them
and came to Nazareth,
and was obedient to them.

The Son of God was obedient to Joseph and Mary.
In the life, death and resurrection of Christ, true God and true man, the heart of all humanity is perfectly open for God.
In the life, death and resurrection of Christ, true God and true man, the eternally open heart of God is present FOR and IN humanity itself.
In Christ, living, dead and risen, the open heart of humanity and the eternally open heart of God are one and the same, pierced open to be the one and ultimately only doorway whereby God and humanity enter into communion with each other.
The death of Christ on the Cross is his mightiest deed— greater than any other wonder he could have worked in Nazareth or anywhere else.
In the weakness, wounding and death of Christ, God reveals his power— the power to save humanity from its own tightly shut heart.
Yet— mysteriously— despite his boundless power to save, today the Gospel tells us he was amazed at Nazareth’s lack of faith.
So he was NOT ABLE to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.

Today in his Eucharist, Christ comes to us as to Nazareth.
Let us not amaze him with our lack of faith.
Let us own up to being like the few sick people of Nazareth, for we all have the sickness called sin.
Then, even if Christ performs no other mighty deed here today, he will cure us of our sins.
That is the beginning of all that is good for us.

That God Be Glorified in All


Blogger Kevin said...

Dear Fr. Stephanos,

You've certainly heard this question before: today's Gospel mentions three brothers and at least one sister of the Lord. Are these considered to be actual brothers and sisters?


Kevin (

8:59 AM  
Blogger Father Stephanos, O.S.B. said...

The words “brother” and “sister” are the words the Jews used for “cousins”— first degree, second degree and others.

The Jews didn’t have the word “cousin,” but instead called cousins “brothers” or “sisters.”

The Church holds that Mary the mother of Christ bore no other children than Christ.

We understand the brothers and sisters of Christ in Nazareth to be his cousins either in the first degree or another.

9:22 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home