Memorial of Saint John Vianney, priest
(Leviticus 23:1.4-11.15-16.27.34b-37; Matthew 13:54-58)
In one of his novels Larry McMurtry tells the story of an antique collector who buys a precious item from the owners of a second-hand store. The owners ask a price many times below the object’s value because they do not know its real worth. In the gospel today the townspeople where Jesus grew up similarly do not recognize Jesus for who he really is.
The people of Nazareth think that they know Jesus because they know his family. They cannot comprehend that he is the long awaited Messiah who comes to save Israel. Even his miraculous cures and his wonderful teaching do not convince them but just confound them more.
Some of us may likewise be scandalized by the ways that Jesus makes himself present today. We do not meet him at a grand banquet which we have to pay thousands of dollars to attend. No, he is present in the simple hosts and the inexpensive wine that we bring to the altar. His teachings promising eternal life are also neither complex nor enigmatic. Rather, they contain the straightforward message that we are to love God above all and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We must be careful not to reject Jesus as his townspeople do in the gospel. Quite the contrary, we must be ever grateful that he makes himself available to us and to all.