Sunday, December 31, 2000

Where did he get that?

A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.

We probably all know the quote, but do we ever ask ourselves why this is true. The answer may be found right in the same passage. The question they repeatedly ask is,

Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? or Where did this man get all this?

It seems to me that these would be perfectly fine questions if the questioners were seekers, if they were asking where he got it because they genuinely wanted to go and find this source of wisdom. But they are not asking out of a true sense of wonder and curiosity; they are asking out of jealousy.

They are asking in that tone that any of us can take when we see someone with some nice thing that we perhaps cannot afford and we think the other person does not deserve. We see the person with the nice new car, and with an edge to our voice ask, "Where did he get that?"

The sad thing is that if they had just asked him where he got all that, he would have told them. He would have not only told them he would have shared his wisdom and power with them. Remember the promise of John 14:12:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these
Two of the cardinal sins come to mind, greed and envy. The good news is that for each of the cardinal sins there is a cardinal virtue. The cardinal virtue for greed is caritas, charity or generosity. Interestingly, the cardinal virtue opposed to envy is humanitas. In Latin it can refer simply to humanity, human nature. But it also means kindness, courtesy, or culture.

The remedy for envy is not any great magic it is simple kindness,basic humanitas. The people of Jesus's hometown could have literally had it all. Instead, they chose to be petty. Which will we choose today: to be petty (small) or to be great, to be what. God has called us to be?