Mk 6:1-6a Making The Heart Grow Fonder
Jesus arrived to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this?” …And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
A little girl came up to me all excited about her upcoming trip to see her cousins. The excitement in her eyes brought back memories of my cousins…and how we used to fight like cats and dogs! I know why she loves (and misses) them so much. It’s because she never sees them. That’s the difference! In my case, I always saw them. In her case, she never sees them. You know the saying, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” This saying is as deceptive as it is well intended. I can’t imagine a wife ever telling her husband, “Leave for a few months so that you can grow fonder of me!” Instead of growing fonder he may become fodder for the beasts.
Has anyone ever said to you: “I don’t need to go to Mass. I pray at home.” Really? I don’t believe it. Again, it might be very well intended but I know it is very deceptive.
Jesus is truly man. He does everything we do. He breathes like us, sleeps like us, walks like us and talks like us. So of course, his neighbors and childhood friends would never think twice about Him. After all, He does everything we do. But when it comes to everything, Jesus seems to do it a little better than we do. Its’ true! When He spoke, He spoke in his native tongue, like everyone else. But unlike everyone else, He put certain words together that no one else had ever dreamed of putting together. For example, He said, “Love your enemy.” Love and enemy had never gone together. And even today, it is held by many to be a symptom of wishful thinking. Again, the Lord said: “Blessed are the poor.” Blessed and poor had never gone together. Who in the world would ever say that? Well, the Lord did, and He was poor. Although many people may consider this beatitude as “inhumane” or “insensitive”, I can assure you it is the same people who find it difficult to pass through the eye of a needle.
Most of us would never believe such things, unless we saw it with our own eyes. Thank God the Lord “believed” such things. His “belief” made it possible to realize such things, which allowed all of us to see it with their own eyes!
St. Paul’s words today are stunning (not to say unbelievable). He writes (2Cor 12:7-10), “I am content with weaknesses.” What??? “I am content with insults.” What??? “I am content with hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ.” What??? Impossible!
No, it’s not impossible. The problem with me (like most of us) is that I wouldn’t believe it unless I saw it! The reality with St. Paul is that he believed it, before he experienced it, and thus made it possible for all of us to see it and believe it.
Believing is seeing. Today at Mass I noticed a beautiful little family in the front row. They are always in the front row. But something was different today. You may not be aware of this, but at St. Monica, we are currently celebrating Mass in the “Old Church”. The Old Church has no pews or kneelers. So during consecration, the protocol is for the congregation to sit down. They can kneel if they want, but almost everyone sits down: the old as well as the young, the sick as well as the healthy; the rich as well as the poor; the sleepy as well as the wide awake. Everything is the same. Everyone is the same. But when it comes to everything and the Holy One, this beautiful little family seems to have handled it a little differently. There, in the front row, I saw four little handmade soft cushions come out of nowhere and placed gently on the ground. When the time came for the consecration of the bread and wine, each member of the family bent their knees on their cushion before the Lord.
How did they think of that??? Who do they think they are??? Aren’t we all the same: normal? Yes. But while nearly everyone in the congregation can see and bend their knees, this family believed before they could see, which made His presence and their love ever more visible for all to see.
I am a Christian. I am a believer (I am a priest!). But it seems to me this family is just a little more Christian, a little bit stronger in their faith, than me.
Faith in the Lord makes us stronger in every possible sense of the word. It makes the ‘impossible’ possible. Faith turns turmoil into triumph; defeat into victory; a thorn in one’s flesh into a source of grace!
Believing it makes all things possible to see.
Distance does not make the heart grow fonder. Not even closeness makes the heart grow fonder! What makes all the difference in the world, and the heart grow fonder, is a deeper appreciation for everyone and everything that grows around us.
Jesus, the true God and true Man, brings out the best in all of us.
Just believe and see.