Home Again: Readings for July 5

Backyard Statueby Rebecca Curtin

This week’s gospel reading describes the return of Jesus Christ to his “native place” where he attempts to preach to his former neighbors and acquaintances. The people are skeptical of his message. They ask: “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? …Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?” As a result, of their lack of faith, Jesus is unable to perform any “mighty deed,” and laments “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place…”

This all seems pretty straightforward, but in contemplating what it might mean to me I have been perplexed. Maybe I find it all the more perplexing having just returned from my own native place (San Diego) and am still high with memories of the gorgeous smell of eucalyptus and brush in the early summer, with thoughts of those cool June nights and the sun on my skin.

It was an amazing two weeks of family and friends, long talks and relaxation, food and drink. It was relaxing because I didn’t do much, but also because in my native place, my home, I feel like I can be the most myself. Sometimes I just feel like the people at home touch that core of me that no one elsewhere can completely understand. I am who I am because of that place. It’s a restorative thing to feel that recognition.

Because of all these feelings, this gospel left me feeling unable to sympathize with Jesus. The reading is so contrary to what I have been feeling lately. Home felt perfect. But, searching through memories of other visits to my home, I recall that not all trips felt so perfect.

Home has a great power to humble us. At home we are teased and talked about and prodded with questions. We are reminded of what we haven’t done yet, be it to get married, to have the right job, or … the possibilities are endless.

Home ties us back to Earth. It reminds us of who we are. But, for those of us who have traveled away from home, it is never all of who we are. There is that part of us that is the wanderer, unattached, maybe even a miracle worker.

When home, Jesus marveled at how people could know him so well, and yet not know him at all. No great miracles could happen there, and it is because people knew Jesus the man too well that they could not understand Jesus the divine.

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