Home Town Familiarity” by Fr John Horan SDB

Home Town Familiarity” Reflection for 14 Sunday

It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. Over-familiarity is one of the great flaws in human nature. It blocks us from seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary and the deeper mystery and uniqueness in each other. It leads us to think we know everything about others; but our prejudices, assumptions and biases prevent us from seeing new depths within them. And so we’re not open to letting them surprise us any-more. We’ve imprisoned and ‘fossilized’ them in our own world view.

That’s what happened to Jesus in today’s Gospel reading. He returned home to his own village and his own people, and even though they were astonished by his wisdom and news of his miracles they could not get beyond their own assumptions about him. They were certain they knew who he was. Isn’t this the carpenter’s Son, they said. Don’t we know his Mother Mary, his extended family and where he came from? Who does he thinks he is? Isn’t he the same as us. And they would not accept him. In their eyes his ordinariness cancels out his wisdom and his miracles. Nothing kills like unthinking familiarity. Perhaps it was easier for them to accept a carpenter than a prophet in their midst.

G.K. Chesterton, reflecting on how hopelessly prone we are to see things through the lens of over-familiarity, said that one of the deep secrets of life is to learn to look at things familiar until they look unfamiliar again.

Unless we do that, we think we know the other when we actually don’t.

St Mark says that Jesus’ rejection by his own people in Nazareth rendered him powerless. And so he could work no miracles there.

It’s a very destructive power we all have – the ability to disempower others and prevent ‘miracles’ happening.

Like ourselves Jesus was deeply affected by the way people reacted to him. Their lack of faith and trust disempowered him.

One way out of the danger of over-familiarity is to develop an attitude of gratitude to become aware that all is gift, all is grace and grace is everywhere.