“I killed my brother”
He was a large man who walked slowly behind me as we made our way down the hall to my office. Since I was in charge of creating “intake” profiles for potential clients, I invited him to sit down and began the interview process. As we discussed his harried past, he finally disclosed that he had just been released from prison. Typing the information into the computer, I looked up at him without surprise or shock and asked for what crime he had received his felony. “Murder,” he spoke with a calm and mild voice. “I stabbed my brother with a knife.” This wasn’t the most shocking thing I had heard in my position, but what did shock me was how many times I thought I had someone pegged, and how many times I was wrong. Like many clients, this mild-mannered gentleman was respectful and kind, and of all the challenges I assumed he may be facing, I had no idea of the evils which he had to overcome to pick his life up again. Moving on in society as a felon would be no picnic. Only through the mercy of God and some serious perseverance would he be able to overcome his past and as an ex-con, he could count on being pigeon-holed. But what about someone who performs miracles, speaks wisdom and heals the sick?
He was amazed at their lack of faith…
This past Sunday’s gospel reminded me that we all get type-cast at some point in our lives. Jesus is going around preaching with great wisdom and performing all kinds of miracles and when he gets back home, people toss aside all the wonderful things he has done to say he is just the guy from down the street, and how could he be anything more? Because of their lack of belief, they missed out on miracles that were stored up for them. Our lack of faith inhibits God from working in our lives because He is not a bully, He is a gentleman. He doesn’t come where He isn’t truly invited, and we must with a full heart believe in all that He can do in order to give Him room to do it.
Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary…
I have been type-cast many times in my life; some titles I have set aside include middle child, cheerleader, and “Julie, the Cruise Director” (and those are the nice ones). I won’t ask if you have ever been pigeon-holed or “type-cast” because I know that you have. I know that at some point someone didn’t believe in you because they thought you were just that kid from high school or the woman who worked at the office. Everyone who encounters human nature is subject to being pigeon-holed into a position that is limiting and unjust to the potential with which they were created for this world.
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
We can never know the extent of people’s gifts, talents and abilities, and moreover we can’t assume we know God’s plan for them in life. What He deigns for us doesn’t need human approval. Most likely if you are facing resistance from someone while you work toward you goals (especially those you carefully discerned in prayer) then congratulations! You must be doing something right or the enemy wouldn’t bother trying to stop you. Pigeon-holing is a favorite tool of the enemy, and he will enlist any unguarded soul to execute his plan, especially those with a enlarged sense of pride in themselves, or worse yet, those who are insecure in their own identity. He knows that when others belittle us it works on our own sense of vanity and can stop us from fulfilling our God-given tasks.
God came into the world to become fully human, even to the point of death on a cross, while being fully God all at once (CCC 456-483). Reading this gospel passage from last Sunday, we see these neighbors and locals from the old hood are pigeon-holing Jesus, they actually type-cast God. I can imagine Jesus looking forward to going home to serve his own village only to have them sneer and whisper under their breath at him while he preached in the synagogue. How awful it must have felt for him to get that reaction from those who knew his family and watched him grow. Later, we know he is humiliated, spit upon, and nailed to a cross to die…by the very souls he came to save.
NO ONE has experienced rejection to the extent that our loving God has faced by His own creation. He understands your hurt and what it feels like to have someone try to take you down. When you are feeling rejected, praying to God and asking Him to help you do His will for your life will always bring you the greatest reward and inner peace. When someone comes against what you feel God is asking you to do, realize three things:
- What human nature doesn’t understand usually falls under the realm of fear, and we know that is a place which yields some ugly human behavior.
- No one understands more than your Creator how it feels to be rejected; and even being rejected by the very creation into which He breathed life. Ask Him for the grace to see the road before you clearly, and to give you the grace to take the next best step unblemished by other’s opinions.
- You don’t need any human being’s permission to comply with God’s plan for your life. In fact, a lack of support from those who think they know you best is almost a hallmark that you are on your way. Keep going with the intention of rendering it all unto Him, who planted those desires in your heart.
Just keep moving forward with your goals one step at a time, staying rooted in Christ and praying all the way. Nothing can stop God’s plan for your life if you believe in Him and those hopes and dreams you have…He placed those dreams in your heart for a good reason. And if someone says you can’t do it because you are just the guy from down the street, look up and give God a knowing wink and keep on truckin’.
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
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.
Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Thanks to Valerie Cullers whose blog “Top Secret Clearances and a bit of paranoia–any Correlation?” partially inspired this reflection, along with Sunday’s gospel.