Gospel: Mark 6: 1-6
1 He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.
(British Airways employee Nadia Eweida was dismissed for wearing a crucifix at work.)
Prejudice hurts. It threatens our dignity and seeks to destroy our confidence. For Christians today, prejudice is becoming more and more of a problem. Christianity by its very nature is counter-cultural. Today, secularism is doing all it can to eradicate Christianity from our laws, our schools and our workplaces. This puts pressure on us as Christians to try to fit in better by compromising and diluting our faith. To stand up as a Christian takes courage. But we must remember that we are not expected to do it on our own! Through Baptism and Confirmation, we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and help us in times of difficulty. We also have the strength and support of our Priests, parish communities and the wider support of the entire universal Christian family. And remember, it says ‘Do not be afraid’ 365 times in the Bible – 1 for every day of the year!
Perhaps the most painful form of religious lack of respect comes from those closest to us. It may be friends, teenage sons or daughters, siblings or even parents who have been brought up with, but have then rejected the faith. Of course to fight against this in a militant way would be wrong. No-one can be forced to love Jesus – otherwise it wouldn’t be love! All we can do is to pray, let them see how much we love Jesus, and let our example do the talking. And remember – Jesus has been there: “Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.”