An Open Mind

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

July 7, 2024 – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mark 6:1-6

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We are moving through Mark’s Gospel these days. Scholars say that his gospel was the first written and gives us some interesting and important historical information about Jesus. Today we learn two things about him. First, that Jesus had worked at a trade – carpentry, like his father. Second, that he had brothers and sisters. This surprises some readers because we have been led to believe that Jesus was the only child of Mary and Joseph. But we also know that these other family members may be his cousins. References to one’s extended family were very important in his day.

Another interesting point in today’s gospel is that it describes (perhaps) his first public involvement in the life of his home synagogue. There was a custom back then that anyone could offer to the assembled a word or two of comment on the biblical readings of that day. Apparently, Jesus did not do this until the incident described today. And when he did speak, those gathered that day were surprised and amazed. Maybe even a bit disturbed, too. Mark’s gospel states that “they took offense at him.”


One of the basic aspects of Mark’s gospel is to clarify the exact nature of the message and ministry of Jesus. Mark knew that many held certain expectations about the hoped for messiah. Major among these hopes was that he would be a political or military leader who would drive the occupying Roman forces from their land. Another was that he would have remarkable powers and bring health and prosperity to them.

Jesus certainly came to help people, and at times illustrated his teachings with acts of acceptance, kindness to all by “doing good.” The focus on his first public activity at the synagogue in his hometown was to present himself as a rabbi or teacher. That he found resistance to his views implies that he was not the person they thought he was. Or who they wanted him to be. We might say that they had pre-judged him. Thus, they would not be open to his message, because their hopes may not have coincided with his messianic role. They listened to him, but with a closed mind.  

Which could also be a warning for us. I have been studying the gospels for many decades. I try to base my thoughts, decisions and actions on them. Yet I am often surprised when I read about Jesus and his words with an open mind. I often learn something new. Or I am reminded of a truth that I have forgotten. I suspect that some of those who heard Jesus that day believed that they “already knew it all.” Let that not be said of us. We should always be open to learning anew from Jesus and the gospels.

David M. Thomas, PhD    

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