Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Priest


A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house." And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.


     In a representative democracy such as ours, individuals are sent to the "halls of power" to represent their constituency. Minorities sometimes struggle to get representation if their numbers are too small in a given district. Gerrymandering may be used either to improve their lot as districts are drawn, or to worsen it.
     However, sometimes members of that minority denounce their own representative. They say, "He doesn't speak for me!" They may disagree with his policies or feel that he fails to present their story . Sometimes they suspect that his greatest strength -- his education, wealth or ability to work with powerful people -- disqualifies him as their representative. "He doesn't quite look like me!" Democracy requires compromise at every level and those unwilling to compromise invite disappointment.
     In today's gospel, we find that Jesus' neighbors and family despise him because he is one of them. His familiarity, his greatest strength, is, in their eyes, a weakness and a reason to ignore him.
     From its earliest days the Church has struggled to protect and announce the Incarnation. The doctrine that God is one of our own children will always be unappealing to those who want power; it will be unconvincing to those who must be coerced, pushed, shoved and bullied to do the right thing. We must defend this doctrine not because we dislike power per se; we don't have an ideological contempt for it. Rather, faith has shown us that the only way the All-Powerful God can save us is through weakness.
     Or, to put it in other words, an All-Powerful God's greatest strength is his ability to strip himself of power to become the least among us. If God cannot divest himself of "all authority in heaven and earth," he is owned by it; he has become its slave. In that case, fearing the loss of power, he must regard every other being as a threat.
     We learn of the Father's total divestiture when Jesus declares "all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me." And we see Jesus stripped of that same power in his crucifixion. In that moment he has handed authority over to us in the Person of his Holy Spirit.
     And now we too experience the weakness of God despite the supreme authority of Love, Goodness and Truth. We present ourselves to our neighbors as disciples and messengers of God; some accept us and others take offense at us because we are entirely too familiar. They can point to our sins as disqualifying, or to our virtue. We are entirely too ordinary and they want supermen.
     Or they can accept us with the same ready faith that binds them and us to the Father of Jesus. In that day we know Communion.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.