A 4th of July Message: Gospel: Mark 6:1-13
“And they took offense at him.”
By the time Jesus arrived in Nazareth, he had been engaged in a very active ministry. He had healed many; he had taught many. He had pulled together his core group, and he had debated with the religious leaders of his time. He had, as they say, made a name for himself. And then he stopped by at home. Oh-oh! Instead of being proud of the hometown kid made good, they became offended.
Rather than argue or try to convince them, Jesus accepted that he “..could do no deeds of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.” And then he off he went to continue his ministry. He exhibited what it means to accept himself as God’s son – and he showed us how to accept ourselves as Children of God.
Because this is the 4th of July, let’s look at this using some words we hear about today – independence, freedom, liberty, happiness.
When we consider Jesus, we see he was an independent thinker. He was free from the control of others. His independence was such that he wasn’t impressed by the authority of others. His many debates with the religious leaders of his day show us this. Jesus lived his ministry with freedom. He took his power – he took the right to teach, to preach, and to heal without asking permission. Once he started, he didn’t stop. Acting in liberty, Jesus acted out his freedom, his power – no matter what anyone thought.
What about happiness? Was Jesus a happy man? We don’t really know. But, he was so connected to people and so connected to his Abba, and he was so able to help people, and he so believed in the power of love, maybe he was happy. Many of us are happy when we can claim even one of these things.
Love was so important to Jesus and to us. It’s his commandment, after all. We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul, and our neighbor as ourselves. We are to be independent and free enough to do this – and we are not only to feel that love, we are to ‘do’ that love.
Through his way of living, Jesus showed us that, as all followers of the way, we are to believe in ourselves and in our God; we are to believe in the things we are called to do; and we are to move forward, knowing whose power and whose authority is guiding us. We know how we are to act. We are to love.
We are to feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to invite in strangers, to clothe the naked, to look after the sick and to visit those in prison. (Matthew 25:35-40) This is always the case, not only today. But it IS July 4th, so it is important to note that the same sentiments – the same idea we read in Matthew are similar to the sentiments of our Lady. Our Lady? Mary? No, not Mary – the other one:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
We are to be independent enough, free enough to love as God loves! So may it be. Happy 4th of July!