A Lack of Faith by Rev. Paul Grankauskas
Reprinted by permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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Mark wrote to explain Christ
to the new Gentile converts.
Jesus departed from there and came 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? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" 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." So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
The Gospel presents a sad story. Our Lord returns to his native place. He teaches in the synagogue, only to receive a rather chilly reception from his own kinsmen. In fact, they "take offense at him."
The passage indicates that the people were familiar with Jesus' doings: "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What might deeds are wrought by his hands? This much astonishes them.
Harder to swallow is the fact that the man doing these things is one of them. "Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?" The people know this man, and that familiarity seems to breed contempt. It seems difficult for them to grasp that Jesus could be some kind of great prophet sent by God, much less the divine Son of God. In the end, Jesus could do few mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith.
Perhaps we are not always so different from those people in the synagogue. There are still those who find it hard to accept that a carpenter from Nazareth could possible be the son of God and Savior of the world. We live in a world of advanced science, which is often offended by the idea of the miraculous. Attempts are made to explain away the miracles of Jesus. In the end, faith suffers.
For example, the feeding of the 5,000 had nothing to do with Jesus multiplying loaves and fish. It had more to do with people being inspired by his teaching sharing what they had with one another. Or how about walking on water? Jesus did not really do that. The lake was actually frozen, as a contemporary theory happens to go.
Perhaps these explanations may seem to help make Jesus more familiar and acceptable to us. We can now see Jesus as one of us. He is a great teacher and a good man, but he is simply one of us.
But, if Jesus did not do those great deeds that the Gospels record, then he is not our Redeemer and Savior either. Our redemption was the work of one who was both true God and true man. Atonement for our sins could only be made by one who was true God and true man. The Da Vinci Code was written to convince us that Jesus was nothing more than a mere man. Every miracle recorded in the Gospels is meant to help us believe that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God. So much effort is expended on keeping God out of the public arena, out of the hearts and minds of men. We can not erase the fact that, in the Incarnation, God entered the public arena for our salvation.
This is what the apostles preached and the evangelists recorded. This is what the Church proclaims.
In the words of C. S. Lewis, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come away with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
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