Jesus grew up in Nazareth. Imagine him there as a little boy playing outside, saying hello to his neighbors, helping with chores around the house, going to the synagogue to pray in community. As an obedient young man, imagine Jesus by Joseph’s side helping him do woodwork. At this time, in his early years, Jesus hadn’t made his divinity known. He was experiencing a fully human life and thus having fully human interactions with people.
After Jesus was done teaching in Capernaum he went back to Nazareth, his hometown. In Nazareth, Jesus began to teach at the Synagogue and do good works. The people who saw Jesus started to question him. The Gospel tells us that the people were astonished at Jesus, but not in admiration; they were in disbelief and denial. Most likely these were people Jesus grew up with, neighbors he said hello to, the fellow children he played with, his classmates. Now they became people who doubted the good works that Jesus was doing. “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son?”
How many times have your actions been questioned? How many times have people doubted in what you could do? Perhaps they thought you didn’t deserve to be in a position of leadership or weren’t worthy enough to be promoted at work. One of the fears in today’s society is being stationary in one place for too long and not being able to grow in other areas. For example, in the design world, it may look negatively if you’ve only done work in commercial real estate and then want to move into residential design. In the fashion world, it may look negatively if you’ve only been in children’s wear and then want to move into high-end fashion. Or in the marketing world, it may look negatively if all your ad campaign work is on one brand and then you change brands. In all these scenarios when change happens people question your ability to be able to do the new work because they only knew you as you were in your previous position. Now can you imagine why the Nazarene people questioned Jesus’ doings? They saw big change happening. But, they only knew him as “the carpenter’s son” before the start of his ministry, before the miracles that came through his full divinity were known. They heard him preach and saw his miracles but chose not to believe. Remember this, you are never stationary in life and God calls you to different places at different times, always for the greater good of His glory and within that you will always grow.
You and I know Jesus better than those who had disbelief in Nazareth. He wasn’t just the carpenter’s son. We know that Jesus is fully human and fully divine. He is Son of Man and he is Son of the Father. We know the mighty deeds that he has done and we believe in future mighty deeds to come through God’s grace. I know and believe all of this and yet sometimes my own humanity makes me doubt the good things that will be to come. When work is stressful, when I fail an exam in school, when my family and I are at odds, I forget about God’s graces. In that moment I am like the people in Jesus’ hometown, doubting him. My friends, through the Frassati fellowship, have reminded me to focus on Jesus’ love. In moments of little faith I need to offer all of it up to God. He will do great things for me.
Continuing in the Gospel, after being rejected Jesus says that “a prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” People may expect us to be one particular thing, but our truth lies in God’s calling for where He wants us to be. We are not defined by our social status nor our jobs. We are sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Christ. God will always do great things and we are destined, through His will, for greatness.
At this moment, I am with missionaries from the Frassati fellowship in Peru. We are all far from our own houses. Prophets in our own distinct ways. We are in community and in prayer with each other and the people of Laderas, the small community in Peru in which we are on mission bringing the Gospel and building homes for the poor and most in need. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will do God’s will and mighty deeds will happen here.
Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, who believed in Jesus’ full divinity, on your feast day today, pray for us.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, for your love of community that has brought this ministry of young adults together in Peru, pray for us.