Parish of St Matthew the Apostle,
Douglas, Isle of Man

Father Tom ponders …… ‘Nothing special here.’

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, 'Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joset and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?' And they would not accept him. (Mark 6.1-3)

There’s a famous Latin phrase, attributed to Tacitus the Elder, that says “Omne ignotum pro magnifico”. When roughly translated it means “Things we don’t understand seem wonderful”.

People are always impressed by things that are a bit exotic. They presume a French burger van is going to serve better food than a British one. They imagine even a one-legged ballerina will perform excellently just because she is Russian. They are convinced that since a Scandinavian scientist has a theory on black pudding being good for gout then it must be correct. And they are prepared to spend a fortune on a holiday to Burma on the assumption that it’s bound to be better than Bognor.

We are easily impressed by out-of-the-ordinary things. We find them somehow more glamorous than what’s on our doorstep or what’s easy to understand. This is illustrated in this portion of St Mark’s Gospel when Jesus returned to his home town and to the people that knew him. Despite his reputation and regardless of the fact that he’s just performed a series of miracles his neighbours reject him. Why? Because we know who he is; he’s Mary and Joseph’s son. Nothing special. Nothing to start crowing about. It’s easy for us to sit in judgement on the people of Nazareth and accuse them of blindness and stupidity. But we can be as guilty as they are. We can fail to see what’s good on our doorstep. We can fail to see the wood for the trees.

God uses people and situations of ordinary daily life to speak to us. Most of us will never be visited by an angel with a special message. But we will meet all sorts of people and situations week in and week out that are shouting the message of the gospel to us. These people may be our neighbours; they may be (and often are) people we don’t like or find it hard to accept and get on with. But they’re still the mouthpieces that God uses to announce his never-ending call. There are no people or places that we can write off. So, how open are we to all the sights and sounds around us? God’s voice is bound to be in one or other of them. Why not let yourself be surprised?

With my prayers and very best wishes,