Familiarity Breeds Contempt

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31 January 2018

In today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to his hometown of Nazareth. This is the place where he grew up, where everyone would have known him well. To them, unlike the rest of the world, Jesus is not a wandering preacher, miracle worker or potential Messiah, he’s merely the carpenter’s son. To them, he’s not the next big thing but somebody they’re sure they know inside and out. Undoubtedly, the man they’ve grown up with cannot be extraordinary.

Why do they think this? Because, as the adage tells us, ‘familiarity breeds contempt.’ Although convicted of his wisdom and power, the people of Nazareth are still prevented from believing in him due to their familiarity with him.

Many of us have grown up with Jesus. We’ve taken all of the classes, heard all of the bible stories and been to enough Masses that we feel like we know Jesus inside and out.

There are enormous benefits with such an upbringing however with it can come the danger of complacency; taking Jesus for granted.

The greatest enemy of faith can merely be familiarity. It comes with a refusal to believe that the source of God’s presence can come from places we’ve been to so many times before, like the Mass or the scriptures.

Progress in the spiritual life almost always shows itself in the ability to recognise God more and more in the ordinary and every day.

So, may we renew and refresh our faith lest we become a Church in which Jesus cannot perform miracles. Let’s drop this belief that we know Jesus inside and out and instead look at him with fresh eyes and a fresh heart in both the scriptures and in the Mass.

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