Familiarity breeds… MARK 6:1–6
By Sandee and Hilary Bengochea
Hilary worked long hours when our children were infants and so when he came home at nights, as well as early mornings, he would spend time with them and often read for them.
I, on the other hand, had given up my job and was a full-time mummy, wife, and homemaker, and I must confess, was very much into processing them – meals, clean clothes, clean rooms, homework, bedtime! Whew!
I remember with great amusement when one night, I offered to read a bedtime story for them. They fell on the floor laughing! “Mummy, can you even read?”
I am also the fifth child of my parent’s six children. Often, when there are family decisions to be made, I am presented with the resolutions and have to comply. No-one really wants to engage the opinion of this fifth child. “Isn’t this the precocious lil’ one ? Fall in line,” I’m sure they are thinking.
Jesus, returning to His hometown, was greeted with the same: “Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary…”
However, these words were not said with awe and excitement, but with cynicism and disbelief. And St Mark goes on to say he therefore could not perform any miracles there.
The people of Nazareth could not get past their familiarity with Jesus. They knew Him. He grew up with them, and so they began to doubt.
It is easy for us to look at others and decide that they cannot accept what we have become and of what we are now capable. The familiarity creates doubt. But perhaps we ourselves need to look at our relationships.
I am sure we can all remember our passionate love beginning to cool down. Our zeal for being with each other diminishing, our excitement of chatting together reduced to only when necessary. And our intimate relationships are put on ice. There is a saying that familiarity breeds contempt, and so we begin to give only the dregs to the relationship. Indifference and complacency can gradually slip into a relationship.
Like the people of Nazareth, many of us have also known Jesus all our lives. I grew up with Him. But there are times when I, too, do not trust Him, sometimes allowing my familiarity with Christ and His Word to become complacent, indifferent, or worse–contemptible.
I spend less time with Him. My hunger for His Word diminishes, I give the bare minimum to the relationship. And the contempt creeps in.
My ego tells me that I can do it alone. And the mistrust creeps in “and he could work no miracle there.”
I doubt and mistrust that this Son of Mary, who I have known all my life is perfectly capable of, and willing to work miracles in my life.
There is a passage from one of Thomas Merton’s journals that says: “Now at last let me begin to live by faith. Seek first the Kingdom of God. Why do I mistrust Your goodness, mistrust everyone but myself, meet every new event on the defensive, squared off against everybody!
Dear Lord, I am not living like a monk, like a contemplative. The first essential is missing. I only say I trust You. My actions prove that the one I trust is myself—and that I am still afraid of You.
Take my life into Your hands at last. Do whatever You want with it. I give myself to Your love—rejecting neither the hard things nor the pleasant things You have arranged for me. . . . Everything You have planned is good. It is all love”
(Thomas Merton, Dialogues with Silence: Prayers and Drawings).
The gospel meditations for July are by Hilary and Sandee Bengochea who have been married for 41 years and have been actively involved in marriage and family life ministries for over 35 years. They are the parents of four children.
Hilary is an Aspirant in the Diaconate programme, and Sandee is involved in the Caribbean arm of the World Community for Christian Meditation.
They lead the group Bible Circles Meditation which practises Lectio Divina, Christian Meditation and warm hugs!