We begin our reading of the gospel, with reference to Jesus reading scripture in his home town. It was the passage from Isaiah, outlining what I suggested was his mission statement, to preach good news to the poor, heal the sick etc. It says that the people looked at him amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. Some began to speak of him as one of their own local people, Joseph’s son. People began to doubt and by the end of the reading they have turned against him driving him to the edge of town intending to cast him over the cliff.
How the mind can so easily fluctuate. Amazed at one moment and so negative the next.
From the beginning of his ministry this has been the primary issue of his story. So significant was his personality and the extraordinary nature of the things he could do, that people are compelled to make a judgement, one way or the other. Either for, or against.
If the written word is anything to go by, history is a long story of a myriad of opinions with numerous outcomes: From baffling wars to the most inspirational feats and endeavours. With faith, hope, and compassion, lives have been changed for the good of humanity. So why the variation in responses and outcomes? It’s because the greatest battles of life take place within our mind. So many things shape our thinking and our ability to assess.
Our upbringing teaches the family story: what it is that our family has believed, our expectations and aspirations. The family ethos shapes our feelings. Out of the broad mix of family dynamics each of us develop what some psychologists speak of as our script. No matter what circumstance we find ourself in, we keep replaying and enacting that script.
As our life story slowly unfolds, we discover we each have a different array of gifts. We are drawn toward activities that satisfy us and we slowly shape our behaviour. WOUNDS, FEARS AND WEAKNESSES. Life is a journey that both offers us opportunity and batters us with unfortunate circumstance. We accumulate wounds, fears, anxieties all the while discovering our weaknesses. We try to avoid their influence, or hide them far into our past memories.
If we draw all of these together we begin to see the complexity of the interior dynamics of our mind, and when we consider that all such interior components want to have a say in the way we view and assess life we might begin to understand why some people vacillate from opinion to opinion while others are as rigid and narrow minded as can be. Together our identity is formed.
We could probably say that Jesus is one of the most unsettling people of history. There is something about him that impacts the hearts and minds of people. They can be excited like the woman of Samaria who was overwhelmed by his extraordinary capacity to read her mind and welcome her.
Remember the tax collector, Zaccheus who welcomed Jesus into his home and promised to turn his life so completely around he would give half his wealth to the poor and return all the money he had defrauded from people. On the other hand we read the stories of Herod who was so afraid of losing power he had all the new born babes slaughtered. Pilate who was similarly fearful of losing power prevaricated back and forth before handing him over to be crucified.
Christianity has been built upon this knowledge of his power to impact upon people. We have seen the spirit of God within him. We speak of him as the image of the invisible God. He is the foundation of all life. The truth that is to set people free. We believe he depicts the spirit of God in all people. He unsettles us if we resist. He empowers us to become Christ-like ourselves.
This mixed reaction by the people of Nazareth in the local synagogue is typical of what lies ahead of all people. Our ability to assess is highly complex. Love is blind and fear blinds us, and so the complexity goes on. Only by embracing the spirit of God do we have connection with the truth that sets us free. Jesus is the icon of life whose mission was to transform all people to be the people we are created to be.