By: JUBILEE! Minister Candace Chellew-Hodge
Ah yes, Jesus, just like Galileo and those other great people through history, knew what it felt like to be misunderstood. And nowhere was he misunderstood the most but by the people who knew him best — those good men and women of his hometown of Nazareth.
In today’s passage (Mark 6:1-6), we find our guy teaching at the local synagogue on the Sabbath, expounding on the scriptures and sharing his insights with those who meant the most to him.
Instead of being proud of their hometown boy, the scripture says they were “astonished,” which in Greek means they were shocked, even panicked and they were ready to strike out at Jesus over what he said. Not only did they misunderstand him, they wanted to drive him out of the town for his words and insights.
“Where did he get all this stuff?” they want to know, “and how to we get him to shut up about it?”
The reaction surprised even Jesus who woefully said, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown.”
In a literal sense, then, we can see how expressing insights on important topics such as the nature of God got Jesus in trouble and can serve as a warning to any of us thinking about getting all high-minded around people who have known us since we were snotty-nosed kids.
But, when you read this story as a metaphor, it actually holds a more powerful message for us. You see our “hometown” is not a place we have to physically travel to. Instead, we carry that hometown with us all the time in the form of our ego. The ego is like those hometown folks who think they know us best. We were the carpenter’s son who was too good for the family trade and rode off into the sunset to find fame and fortune. Now he’s back, ready to flaunt all that learnin’ he’s been doing, and make us all feel so small, stupid and unimportant.
The ego is that place in all of us — that hometown crowd — that jeers at us saying, “Who do you think you are? What makes you so smart? Why should we believe anything you have to say? We’ve seen you in your diapers and wiped your butt. Don’t go gettin’ too big for your britches.”
You see, our hometown is the place where our faithless ego lives. In this hometown, we’ll always be the no-good loser who couldn’t hack it in daddy’s business. The ego has no faith in us. It cannot see us as anything more than that hometown screw-up.
This passage tells us that Jesus could barely do any miracles while engulfed in this egoic sea of disbelief.
He did a few things, but the energy of doubt was so great that it crippled his ability to bring forth insight — which is simply a shift in how we see things, which as the Course in Miracles tells us is when miracles occur — when we can see things differently.
When our hometown — our ego — is in disbelief, it’s hard to reach that deeper wisdom. In order to bring forth insights — those miracles of seeing the world in new ways — we must work on overcoming our ego and using its disbelief in us as a reminder that we must leave that hometown so we can get to that deeper place within.
To be able to fully embrace insight and the wisdom it can bring us and the world, we first must realize that the ego will never recognize us as a prophet and will always cast doubt on our abilities and our wisdom. If we stay in that hometown of ego, we’re always going to wonder if we’re good enough or if anything we do will make a difference. The ego is invested in keeping us in this frame of mind and belief.
It’s no wonder Jesus remained a homeless rolling stone for most of his life and didn’t visit this “hometown” of ego all that often. It robbed him of his power.