21 And he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." 22 And all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth; and they said, "Is not this Joseph's son?" 23 And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, `Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Caper'na-um, do here also in your own country.'" 24 And he said, "Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own country. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Eli'jah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there came a great famine over all the land; 26 and Eli'jah was sent to none of them but only to Zar'ephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Eli'sha; and none of them was cleansed, but only Na'aman the Syrian." 28 When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and put him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. 30 But passing through the midst of them he went away.
In the course of my work, I often encounter people whose careers are similar to mine—they are managers. At a recent conference, I met a woman whose reputation for leadership is recognized. She is a hard worker and a creative thinker. She loves investing in people and helping them develop their strengths. Someone once said of her, she gives 100 percent, 100 percent of the time.
She and I hit it off and decided to have lunch together. During that time, I asked her what her greatest challenge had been since she’d begun managing staff and, without hesitation she said, managing resentful staff.
As it turns out, a few years earlier she had been hired into a new office to manage a staff of people she had never met before. The former manager had retired after decades of working alongside these people, first as their colleague and later their boss. Everyone expected the new manager to be chosen from the existing staff. One person in particular was very popular and seemed the obvious choice. However, instead of that person, my lunch companion was hired into the position. Perhaps not surprisingly, she received a very cold welcome on her first day of work. The staff resented her although they’d never met her. They were critical and quick to take offence. Until the climate began to thaw, my friend found managing the office to be a struggle because the staff members were closed and disbelieving toward her.
In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus is rejected by the people of Nazareth, the town where he grew up. At first, they are “amazed” at his “gracious words” but, when he is recognized as the son of Mary and Joseph—one of their own—they start questioning his authority. How could someone from the working class know anything worthwhile about scripture? Surely he is no better qualified to preach than any of the rest of us. Discovering who he is, they take offence at his teaching and stop believing in him. Jesus observes: “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s hometown.” And because they are not willing to put their faith in him, Jesus can work no miracles in that place.
"At the core of each gospel story is a truth that mirrors our lives today."
At the core of each gospel story is a truth that mirrors our lives today. Jesus was rejected by his fellow Nazarenes. They chose to resent him and close themselves off to the miraculous gifts he offered them. Similarly my companion, gifted as a manager, struggled to lead when rejected and resented by her staff. For when people come together to criticize and take offence, they will see no point of view other than their own, and they will refuse to accept the gifts of others, no matter how beneficial. Let us Pray:
Lord, protect us from bitterness and help us to let go of resentment, so that your love may fill us and open our hearts to miracles and godly possibilities. Amen.