Holy in the Ordinary

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home Depositphotos_74222265_m-2015-bake.jpg

July 8th, 2018 – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 6:1-6

Is Jesus not the carpenter’s son? We know his family. We know where he comes from. We saw him grow up in our midst. We know his laughter and his tears. We’ve watched him day after day. He played with our children. He danced at our festivals. He helped his dad at the shop. He’s not special because he is one of us. Don’t expect more.

I am adding to the words of today’s gospel but not without purpose. I want to highlight the “problem” that those who knew him well and concluded that Jesus was in no way special. And that same reasoning can also spill over into how we think about ourselves. Let’s call it the problem or familiarity. Let’s also call it the problem of thinking about ourselves as “just ordinary” and therefore, “insignificant.”

I have spent the last fifty years of my life as a biblical theologian, a professor and a lay person in the church trying to argue that it’s often the ordinary and unspectacular things of life that hide a richness and significance for building God’s Kingdom in our midst. Too often we are tempted to only look for God’s presence in the spectacular, the miraculous and the unusual. Or only during those moments we call religious. We exclude what happens daily or what simply seems part of the ordinary passage of time. If there’s no religious fireworks. there’s no need to notice or expect that what’s witnessed is in any way sacred or holy. And thus, God is not there.

The locals’ tendency for not seeing anything special about Jesus does not in any way mean that their judgment is final, much less accurate. I believe, they don’t see anything extraordinary about Jesus because they are not looking for it. They’ve grown accustomed to his looks- a line drawn from a popular song of my earlier days. They notice what’s on the surface, but seek nothing deeper. Further, and this is equally important, they are unaware of anything special about themselves. They too are just ordinary.

Jesus came into our lives to point out that everyone is sacred because everyone is deeply loved by God. No exceptions! And that everything we do that is good is important – now and forever. So, what do you see? Just a carpenter’s son?

©David M. Thomas, PhD