Today’s Gospel, Matthew 13:54-58, speaks to us about the natural human tendency to “stereotype” others.
“Jesus came to His native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, ‘Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother named Mary and His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not His sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this? …..”
The people thought they knew Jesus. They had stereotyped Him. They could not accept Him and His teachings because He did not fit their preconceived ideas.
How easy it is to stereotype others. I know that I do it. How unfair to others to pigeonhole them. And not only that but by stereotyping others, I run the risk of being impoverished. I can miss out on all of their good points and all the nourishment that they can give me. When I am open to the possibilities of others, I may find that there is so much more than I ever imagined.
In the Prayer of Christians, the official prayer of the Catholic Church, we read the following words today:
Of what use is it to a person to gain the whole world, if he/she pays for it by losing their soul?
What are my priorities? Material things are good but … at what cost?
In today’s first reading for Mass, we hear the words of the prophet, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21. The Lord is saying to him and to the ancient Israelites and to us today,
“If you repent …..Though they fight against you, they shall not prevail, For I am with you, to deliver and rescue you …I will free you from the hand of the wicked, and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.”
God is with us. God will take care of us – no matter what. But it’s not magic. We have to do our part. We have to be in a right relationship with God. We have to repent and do our best to live by His teachings.
Am I teachable?
More often than I would like to admit, the answer is no. Remaining teachable requires me to be open, willing and attentive rather than being closed and certain of my own opinions. I like being “right.” There is something intoxicating about it. Being willing to learn implies that I don’t have all the answers; that I am not the master of the universe; that I am just another ordinary person.
Jesus give me the grace of true humility – to know myself and my limitations and to be willing to be teachable.
Today’s Gospel, Matthew 13:44-52, is all about searching for a treasure – our treasure – that which will make us the most happy. That treasure, whether we know it or not, is an intimate relationship with Jesus. Jesus is our treasure, the only treasure that will ultimately satisfy us. Once we have found that treasure we need to cultivate it. It is not enough to say that I’ve found Jesus. I have to develop that relationship by a life of action – making concrete choices each day that are built on the teachings of Jesus; spending time in prayer to and with Jesus and doing all that I can to give myself totally to Him.
The treasure of great price can easily be lost if I am not attentive to it.