Many who heard him were astonished.

You are a lifelong resident of Nazareth, and you know everyone in town, including Joseph the carpenter and his wife, Mary. You’ve seen Jesus playing at his mother’s feet, running through the streets with the other boys, and standing next to his father on the Sabbath in the synagogue.

Now he comes back to town and teaches in the synagogue with so much wisdom and grace that you wonder, Could this be the Jesus I know? How can he speak with so much authority? Who does he think he is?

Maybe the problem is your familiarity with Jesus. How could someone you have known all your life actually be the long-awaited Messiah? So maybe we can sympathize with the townspeople in today’s Gospel for taking offense (Mark 6:3).

We might also have a problem with being too familiar with Jesus, but in the opposite direction. We might take offense at the fact that Jesus was really a human being like ourselves. We’ve grown up knowing him as the God who redeemed us by his cross and resurrection. It can scandalize us to think that he was like us in every way but sin.

For example, Jesus probably looked like any ordinary man of his time—maybe someone we wouldn’t even notice if he passed by us on the street. And the Son of God had needs: he got hungry and hot and tired. He had emotions: he laughed and cried, he got excited and irritated. And yet he is the Second Person of the Trinity!

We celebrated the birth of Jesus only five weeks ago, but the incarnation is a mystery of our faith that we can meditate on all year long. God stooped down to earth to become just like one of his lowly creatures. But don’t let that offend you! He did it out of pure love for you and for each one of us. So let’s rejoice today. Jesus is our Lord and Savior, yes, but because he is human, he is also our brother and friend.

“Jesus, in your humanity, draw me close to you.”

Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15
Psalm 103:1-2, 13-14, 17-18
Mark 6:1-6


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