Every town, community, or nation has good and not-so-good parts. There are the rich and poor areas, as well as the well-known and the highly insignificant places. If you can think about any small town you know that has no good reputation, then you could be imagining Nazareth.
The biblical Nazareth was a small northern city of Israel with no good reputation. There was no mention of Nazareth in the Old Testament. However, in the Gospel of John (1:46), we heard Nathanael asking, “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” when Philip told him that he found Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph.
One could be wondering why Nazareth had such a bad reputation and why God destined that Jesus would be called a Nazarene (Matt. 2:23). The Gospel of Mark (6:1-6) gives us some meaningful clues about the lifestyle and disposition of the Nazarenes if you like the Nazareth mentality.
The Nazareth Mentality
Jesus was visiting his hometown, Nazareth, after his forty-day retreat and the subsequent Galilean ministry, especially around the seaside. On the sabbath day, Jesus showed up in the Synagogue with his disciples not to listen to the teachers but to teach.
Fast-forwarding, the people were astonished to hear Jesus teach with such amazing dexterity and impact because they did not see him attend any of the rabbinical schools, nor did he study under any of the renowned teachers. No wonder they asked, “where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him?”
One would think that the people of Nazareth would be excited to welcome one of their own who has become a famous teacher and miracle worker. But, on the contrary, they took offense. They started profiling his family background and reminding him that he is the son of the carpenter and Mary, a common folk, and other family relations.
The attitude of the people of Nazareth was so dismissive that Jesus was unable to perform any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people. Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith as they were astonished by his wisdom and knowledge.
From the preceding, we can figure out the latitude of this reflection, “the Nazareth mentality.” Furthermore, we shall see how to overcome them in our lives, especially in our spiritual journey.
Wasteful Familiarity: Being familiar with someone or something involves having a closer connection. Familiarity could be a great asset that can give access to anyone.
However, familiarity could also have a negative effect when taken for granted, like in the people of Nazareth. Their familiarity with the person and background of Jesus became an obstacle instead of an opportunity for blessings. As a result, they had a wasteful familiarity with the Lord.
Rebellious and Rejection Attitude: The people of Nazareth presented a sandwich of rebellion and rejection as they opposed the authority and power of Jesus Christ. They had no reason to take offense at the Lord, but they did. In the account of Luke (4:28-30), they not only rejected and ejected Jesus from his town, but they also attempted to throw him off the cliff, but he walked away.
Inferiority Mindset: It is one thing to be small and insignificant, and another thing to give it a mindful acceptance. Being small is a physical description, but accepting it is a mentality. What you accept in life becomes your reality, which was the case with the people of Nazareth.
The Nazoreans accepted the cliché of the time that “nothing good could come out Nazareth.” So, the emergence of one of them as a great teacher and healer was a great disruption of their mindset.
Faithlessness: The consequent effect of wasteful familiarity, rebellious and rejection attitude, and inferiority mindset of the people of Nazareth is their faithlessness. Faith is impossible without valuable regard, acceptance, and a positive mental attitude. Faith helps you to see the backing of God, not the background of men.
Moving Forward: Conquering of Nazareth Mentality
It would not be out of place to state that Jesus is still facing the same treatment he got in Nazareth in our day and age, even among Christians who should know better.
We have become so familiar with God to the extent that we see nothing wrong with the kind of disrespectful attitude we display in the house of God, even during prayers. So often, we forget that we are in God’s presence when we distract ourselves with mobile phones, gums, and worldly conversations.
Are we free from rebellion and rejection of the Lord when we fight the word of God out of our heart and when we choose to do our will and what suits us instead of considering obedience to God’s directives like the audience of the Prophet Ezekiel (2:2-5)?
Do we not still zero our minds to some attitudes and dispositions that limit us to have access to God’s power and presence in our lives. Jesus could not perform any mighty deeds because of their lack of faith; what about you? Not that the Lord is not ready for you, but your lack of faith may be the problem.
Sometimes some of us indeed make devoted efforts, but weaknesses from our Nazareth mentality often limit us. But, as St. Paul says (2 Cor 12:7-10), God’s power is made manifest in our weakness because His grace is always sufficient for us!
Do not give up! Keep striving for God sees your struggles and if you keep pushing you shall have victory!
God bless you.
2 responses to “CONQUERING THE “NAZARETH” MENTALITY! HOMILY FOR THE 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.”
Good job brother. More grace.
Thanks a lot.