Jesus returns to his hometown today and those who knew him before he began his ministry to the world "took offense at him." Once people get an idea in their head about us, it is a much harder challenge to have them think of us in a different way. And we, the ones that have changed (or been changed) can be as amazed, hurt even, as Jesus is today, at the hardness of people's set opinions.
This is one of the reasons newly minted priests are not (usually) provided with assignments to serve at the parish that raised them up: it is difficult for the parish to see and treat "parishioner Mary" as "Mother Mary." In a similar way, it is a pretty clear practice that when a priest leaves a parish, she/he does not return as a parishioner: it is unfair and unhealthy to succeeding clergy to have the former spiritual leader in and amongst the congregation they have both been called to serve.
Perhaps we are hard-wired to have these opinions and judgments we make about people become so firmly set. Perhaps it is just easier for us to not accept the new and changed individual, to not allow the mold we have set to be re-molded. These pre-set notions can and do get in the way of our living into the kingdom Jesus is establishing. In today's Gospel, Jesus' ability to do his work is severely hampered because of his hometown's "offense" at who and what he has become.
I wonder if we are being challenged today to put away our ability to be easily offended at change and live into the glory that new-birth, re-imagined, re-created self can reveal.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Calla-lily, 2010, jfd+