Fr Thomas’ Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Parish Can Do No Deed of Power

What can you expect from a building worker from a poor village?  Nothing much I suppose.  That is what Jesus was.  We read in the Gospel that Jesus was understood by the people of Nazareth as the son of Joseph who followed the profession of his father, carpentry.  The term carpenter in Jesus’ time meant someone who did any kind of building work.  Nazareth was a poor village in Galilee, not known for anything spectacular.  In fact, not just Nazareth, most of the Galileans of Jesus time were mostly poor.  Though they did farming, their lands were owned by foreigners and locals were tenant farmers.  Therefore, it is hard to imagine Jesus having enough money or opportunity for proper education.  No wonder his home people did not have faith in Jesus to do anything of significance or importance, let alone divine wisdom.  Their prejudice blinded them from seeing Jesus as the Messiah.  If the people do not have faith, even the Messiah cannot help them.  Their understanding of the humble beginnings of Jesus was the stumbling block for the ministry of Jesus to the people of Nazareth.

Our case is, perhaps, different to that of the people of Nazareth.  We may be so comfortably familiar with Jesus and Church that does great deeds.  But to expect anything more than the routine is hard.  It may be that the COVID-19 lockdown may challenge our familiarity with Church practices and might bring about a renewed trust in Jesus as the personal saviour.  If so, the lockdown is doing some good!

The Gospel narrative about people’s reluctance to listen to Jesus reminds us of how personal prejudices and agendas can block us from listening to what another person has to say, no matter how relevant or wise it is.  Like Jesus, your parish church can “do no deed of power”, because the parishioners know the ordinariness of their priest and others in the parish ministry.  It requires desire and openness of the congregation for the Word to work wonders, and the power of God to manifest for them.  As Jesus was patient, we too shall be patient.