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Greetings to all who love to wander along the paths of the Holy Scriptures! The purpose of this blog is to share some of the insights of ordinary Catholics who have begun to delve into the mysteries of the Sacred Scriptures. Hopefully you will find these reflections inspiring and insightful. We are faithful to the Church, but we are not theologians; we intend and trust that our individual reflections will remain within the inspired traditions of the Church. (If you note otherwise please let me know!) Discussion and comments are welcome, but always in charity and respect! Come and join us as we ponder the Sacred Scriptures, which will lead us on the path into His heart, which "God alone has traced" Job 28:23.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Traveling Preacher

Sunday July 5, 2015
A Reflection on Mark 6:1-6 N.A.B.
By: Larry T

In the Gospel reading for this Sunday we read about Jesus’ preaching experience in his hometown synagogue. At first the people were fascinated and spellbound as they heard Jesus interpret the law in a new and astonishing way, but when they remembered that he had been their neighbor and was a simple carpenter at that, they turned their back on him and his message. What went wrong?

1 He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
2 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!
3 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.
4 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.”
5 So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.

How much time does a professional speaker have to gain an audience’s trust? Is it two, five, ten, or fifteen minutes? The answer is less than five, and sometimes as little as two minutes. In view of this professional speakers are trained to use a variety of time-proven techniques aimed at earning an audience’s trust in the first critical minutes of their speech.

For example, men are told to wear white shirts and women advised to wear white blouses because white implies purity. Married male speakers are instructed to wear plain gold wedding bands because an audience is more comfortable with a man who wears a simple gold wedding ring. Politicians consistently follow this recommendation; even politicians who are multimillionaires typically wear plain gold wedding rings when making speeches. Some speakers have meeting rooms set up with ninety percent of the seating required for the anticipated audience size; then they have additional seating brought in at the very last minute. This is so that seated audience members might think, Wow! Look at all the people coming in at the last minute, this speaker must really be good! These simple tricks-of-the-trade are all designed to help build credibility with the audience. Since Jesus had been invited by the synagogue officials to address the meeting he didn’t have much of a credibility obstacle to overcome.

What was the audience expecting from Jesus? After all, He was just one of them, and a common tradesman at that. At best His reading of the scroll could be a little better than average. Since Jesus didn’t have a formal education in Mosaic Law, his interpretations couldn’t possibly equal those of the Pharisees and scribes. All things considered their expectations of Jesus’ preaching might have been pretty low; some onlookers probably steeled themselves to simply suffer through it.

How good a preacher was the Lord? He astonished them! He stunned them by explaining Mosaic Law in ways that they had never heard before, in ways that they were not ready to accept. Every word that Jesus spoke and every act that he performed was a divine act in human form. This synagogue audience was simply unwilling to accept the Word of God. They rationalized that a simple carpenter could not possess the wisdom to speak as He did, so they rejected Him. Jesus was amazed at their lack to faith.

For two-thousand years all humanity has been Jesus’ audience; he continues to preach to us through Holy Scripture and his Church. Like the synagogue audience we have two choices: we can receive Jesus and live out his message, or we can reject him. The greatest fear that professional speakers have is that their audience will get up and walk out on them. This Sunday we might reflect on the Lord’s dismay as he sees members of his audience get up and walk out and his joy over those who stay.

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