“Who is this guy?”
“Isn’t he so-and-so’s kid?”
“Get outta here!”
“Where do you get off coming in here and lecturing us like this?”
“Take a hike!”
“Who do you think you are, anyway?”
Luke tells us: “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.”
No kidding. (This is not the first time the Gospels mention an incident like this; see also Matthew 13:54-58). It’s apparently difficult for Jesus’ hometown folks from Nazareth to deal with the local kid coming in and prophesying. Imagine if the guy from down the street in your neighborhood, or the checker from the supermarket, walked in front of your church’s pulpit and started preaching. “Isn’t that Joe and Mary’s kid? What’s he doing up there?”
At first the Nazarenes are “amazed” at Jesus’ “gracious words.” Then he tells them that they probably won’t believe what he has to say. And he’s right. Angry, the townspeople rush him out of town and threaten him with violence.
How often do we hear what we need to hear, but disdain it because it’s not what we want to hear? How often have we gotten upset with a friend or loved one who tells us something that doesn’t fit within our comfort zone, or which makes us uneasy? Perhaps we need to listen harder for the voice that tells us what is right, what is true. Truth is often not comfortable, or what we want to hear. But if we use the mind we’ve been given, and exercise critical discernment while at the same time leaving ourselves open to truth, we may find that our path may be a little straighter, easier to walk, and that the heralds of that truth are easier to hear.
Today we celebrate the feast of a giant in Christian history, Gregory Magnus, Gregory the Great, a Doctor of the Church, composer, theologian, reformer, advocate of the poor, and pastoral bishop par excellence. What made him "great" was not so much his tremendous scholastic accomplishments, nor his stupendous governance of the Church in a tumultuous period of Christian history, but his ability to be ready for God's coming in every circumstance.
The name "Gregory," from the Greek word, "gregoréo," which means "to be awake, to be alert, to be ready," is an apropos name for a Christian. Jesus was always reminding his disciples to "be ready" for the Kingdom of God, like it was going to present itself at any moment if they would just open their eyes. I think of the famous Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared." The question that usually follows is "Be prepared for what?"
How slow we are to perceive and understand that God comes to us in the everyday, ordinary mess and minutia of our lives. Am I ready for God's coming today? Am I ready to place my hope in things unseen? Ready or not, God is coming, and probably in some ways I would least expect. I want to be ready.
St. Gregory, paradigm of readiness for God, pray for us!
By Bob Whipple