14th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Designed for Growth

Mark 6:1-6 | 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Designed for Growth

When I visit the town where I grew up, I sometimes feel I revert back to the 18 year old I was when I left. I don’t know if that’s only my perspective or if that’s actually how others see me. I didn’t really like being 18, so it’s not my favorite time to revisit. I wonder if that’s how Jesus felt back in Nazareth—stuck in a time warp?

When He returned to Nazareth, having just performed a number of miracles, people flocked to the synagogue to hear Him speak. But they had a preconceived message they expected to hear. What He actually delivered was not exactly it. Instead of hearing Him out and altering their vision of Him, they tried to put Him in a box: “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary…?” (v. 3).

The people we are closest to, the ones we love the most, they are the ones who can box us in the most tightly, hurt us the most acutely. Maybe this scripture wants to remind us that we have to allow people to become who they are, whether or not we are comfortable with who they grow to be.

I have no idea if Jesus was a good carpenter, but my instincts say He was. I imagine He could have had work lined up for months, as well as some very disappointed customers if He wasn’t willing to put them on a waiting list. I can hear those disgruntled customers muttering, “Who does this Guy think He is? He’s THE carpenter to get, and I have a job I need done!” But Jesus pushed the boundaries of His role as carpenter and His townspeople had to come to terms with that. They had to let Him out of the box where they had put Him.

Someone else’s new persona can also mean redefining yourself, which is not an easy task. The process can cause friendships to disintegrate and marriages to crumble. But, from the beginning, God never intended for any of us to stagnate. In Genesis, He kept creation moving forward, with new developments on the regular.

Relationships are similar, not meant to stay in the same place. They grow and mature—much like the mustard seed (Mark 5:31). It’s not meant to stay a seed—the tree is meant to come into the fullness of its being. When it does, the landscape around the tree must adapt— to the shade it now provides, to the nutrients it requires, and so forth. One person’s growth dominoes and can pile on into eternity.

The Nazarenes felt threatened by their changing relationship with Jesus. I can understand their perspective. As my husband and I move into empty-nesting, my closest relationships are fundamentally changing—with Mark and with both of my children. In adjusting to these changes, I am changing also. It’s a little disconcerting, but it’s also good. I’m trying to remember that growth is always good—we were designed for it by the Master!

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