by Father Mike Stubbs
“Who does he think he is?”
The crowd in Sunday’s Gospel reading, Mk 6:1-6, dismisses Jesus’ teachings and his miracles because of his occupation as a carpenter and because they know his relatives. He has returned to his hometown to teach in the synagogue.
At first, they had been impressed by Jesus: “What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!”
But when they remember his human origins, they reconsider their opinion: “And they took offense at him.”
The crowd will not honor Jesus as a prophet, much less as the Messiah, the Son of God. That is why Jesus says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
We should remember that in the Gospel reading only a few Sundays ago, some of his relatives were declaring that he had lost his mind and they wanted to commit him.
The crowd’s lack of faith puts up an obstacle to Jesus’ working miracles: “So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.”
Notice that the Gospel reading does not say that Jesus merely refrains from working miracles, or that he decides not to work miracles as a punishment for the crowd’s lack of faith.
Rather, his ability to work miracles depends upon their faith.
Similarly, when someone requests a miracle of healing from Jesus, he often will link the possibility of a miracle to the person’s faith.
For example, he says to the woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages, “Daughter, your faith has saved you” (Mk 5:34).
He tells the synagogue official Jairus, whose daughter is deathly ill, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk 5:36). And he tells the man whose son is suffering from convulsions, “Everything is possible to one who has faith” (Mk 9:23).
For Jesus, faith is the key. Ultimately, it is faith in Jesus as the Son of God. To this point, the Gospel according to Mark reaches its climax when the Roman centurion witnessing Jesus’ death proclaims, “Truly, this man was the Son of God” (Mk 15:39).
The centurion’s proclamation about Jesus answers the questions that the crowd in Sunday’s Gospel reading poses about Jesus: “Who does he think he is?”
He is the Son of God, the savior of the world.