And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 

Once again, we take a break from Ordinary Time to focus on this special Solemnity only celebrated in our Holy Church, the Solemnity of the Christian Family.

While taking this break we, in a very special way, continue to study and commit ourselves to the work of following, witnessing to, and sharing Jesus as His family. That is the essence of family, to be together as one in Jesus.

It may seem strange in our day; families are often separated by time, distance, and priorities.

In this separation, we tend to get caught up in the minutia. Certainly, some things are important like work and school, but when it comes down to it, there are plenty of opportunities to come together and strengthen the family.

We see this when the happy and tragic moments confront us. Someone is in the hospital, a baby or wedding shower, the wedding or christening, a funeral. A flood comes and we need to help our family. At these times you will surely find someone saying: We ought to get together more often, let’s have a reunion, let’s stay in contact. But then… missed opportunities. Strengthening each other requires more than occasional time together.

We heard that people were amazed at Jesus’ understanding and answers. In the various gospels we hear this theme repeated: 

Matthew 7:28: …the crowds were astonished. Matthew 22:33: …they were astonished at His teaching. Mark 1:22: The people were astonished at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority. Mark 11:18: …they looked for a way to kill Him. For they were afraid of Him, because the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

This astonishment or amazement is rendered existanto in Greek. People were changed in encountering Jesus, they saw things in a new and previously unheard-of ways.

The same existanto is used for those times people met the first Christians. Those encounters changed their lives and relationships.

Things are different because we, the Christian family, get together to strengthen each other in Christ. Jesus understands our need and gives us this place and each other as strong family, both at home and in the wider Body of Christ, so to live differently because of Him and amaze those we meet.


And You are

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! 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.

Do we mimic Jesus’ encounter with the people from His native region by failing to recollect His reality and how very important and essential He is to us?

Of course, very few people would say they hate Jesus. Where they fail is in seeing the reality of Jesus. Like the people of His native village, the world wants Jesus to be who they want Him to be. They neither expect nor want God to walk among them, to enter into their lives, or to challenge them to go His way.

The gospel shows us that the people of Jesus’ native place expected a carpenter. They pigeonholed Jesus. When He upset their apple cart and challenged them to see differently, they were offended rather than changed.

What do we expect to find when we meet Jesus? Was He only a man, a philosopher who said nice and helpful things that we can choose to accept or ignore? Is He the god of our own making who exists merely to confirm and accept whatever we wish confirmed and accepted? Is He the god of magic blessings and cures? Is He a ‘plumber,’ on call in case of emergency? Do we keep Him safely on a refrigerator magnet, the bookshelf, or the Rolodex just in case? Is He the god of unchallenging love?

Jesus upset the expectations of those in His native place and He should upset our expectations.

The most challenging aspect of being a Christian is whether we will pigeonhole Jesus or if we will accept Him in the fullness of His godhead. If He is a mere shadow of what He truly is then He is not God. He had worked as a carpenter – and that is all His community members saw – that one side. As a result of their expectations they took offense and limited Him.

Jesus proclaimed marvelous words and a life affirming philosophy – but He is not just a philosopher. He healed and is there in a pinch, but He is more than an on-call fixer. He is never a god of our making. His message of love and way of love is always a challenge. It is a challenge to complacency and to our expectations.

Will we limit Him in our lives? Will we fail to recognize Him and how important He is? Will He be more important than anything to us? Will he offend us or will we be set free by His reality? Accepting Him and taking up His challenges sets us free. It makes us amazing in Jesus’ eyes.