Mary and the Rejection at Nazareth

Monday of the 22nd Week

They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong
.

There is so much that could, should and has been said about this particular passage from the Gospel of Luke. It is one of the saddest incidents prior to the actual passion of Christ, and it surely is in anticipation of things to come. It is fascinating to see the sudden reversal of attitudes and feelings. First there is this joy at a native son coming home after his townsfolk and kinsmen had heard about his miracles. One can sense the anticipation of the people, even their pride at one of their own having become the subject of the news of the day. And then there is this sudden reversal after Jesus reads from Isaiah and then applies it to his homecoming, to himself. It begins with the murmur “is this not the son of Joseph?” The gauntlet has been thrown down; who does he think he is? It accelerates the point where they want to kill him, and the dens with him walking away, and we have to sense the great loss of opportunity, the tragedy of their rejection. Is he not just the son of Joseph?

We could meditate at length about what must be going through the mind and heart of our Savior, or the minds and hearts that were so closed to him. But it struck me this morning, that there was another person present surely at this event who is not even mentioned. We cannot imagine that his mother would not have been present, and yet we hear nothing about all this in relationship to her. Her heart is hidden from us in this event as in most of the Gospels. It surely this could not have left her unaffected when she witnessed all this. Was this not the initial plunge of that sword which would pierce her heart, the sword that Simeon spoke about in his infancy, “and you yourself a sword will pierce”? How could she not have felt its steely point at least even if it did not yet reach its full horror at this point in time?

Do we ever meditate on Mary’s understanding and anticipation of the destiny of her son? She knew the Scriptures better than the apostles, who could not handle the idea that he must suffer and die to save his people. She knew her son and surely he enlightened her, gradually almost certainly, as to the way the father had chosen for him. He could not have left her in the dark when he left home, allowed her to live with illusions which would be shattered soon enough. Mary meditated upon these things in her heart, including the prophecy of Simeon, and by this time she had surely come to see what was in store for her son.

We can easily imagine that when Jesus was reading the prophecy from Isaiah that it must have filled his mother with joy, but not with delusion. He was all that Isaiah spoke of, and much more. And when his native city turned against him on that day, it could only confirm, so suddenly, what she knew deep in her heart but understandably may have kept clouded to allow his light to always shine through. Now it could no longer be kept hidden, and as beneath the cross she must’ve faced the truth with the greatest courage.

We might also respectfully imagine the sadness that this caused Mary as Jesus walked away. But unlike the rich young man who walked away sad because he could not embrace the cross, Jesus likely walked away sad, and Mary likely walked home sad but only because those who should’ve most readily accepted the cross with Him had refused, and in hatred they even desired to anticipate his passion. “Weep not for me, but for your children” Jesus would say then, when the rejection was complete. Perhaps Mary also wept that day for the children of Nazareth who would never be her children. Or perhaps her tears would turn many hearts back to Him whom they had first rejected. That in truth is her maternal role.

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Categories: Weekday reflections

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