There’s an insightful saying, “An expert is someone who carries a briefcase and works two hundred miles from home.” The saying finds resonance in Jesus’ own words, “No prophet is accepted in his own native place.” In today’s reading Jesus is invited to preach back in his hometown synagogue. At first, Jesus’ audience are impressed, but then they start to mutter to each other. Surely this is just the son of Joseph the carpenter! When this truth dawns on them they are enraged and drive him out of town. It doesn’t matter how successful or famous or distinguished one has become, once you return home you will always be that little runny nosed seven year old who refused to wash behind his ears.
The readings over the Epiphany season are all about human kind coming to understand who Jesus is and what he is about. In particular, the readings tell us how this understanding is communicated. Jesus was an excellent communicator, but not even he was free of being the victim of prejudice. The business of communicating with others on the subject of God is not without problems and pitfalls.
There is nothing elite about being a prophet. A prophet is anyone who stands up and speaks an insightful truth. As Christians we are all required to stand up for the truth. There is plenty of injustice in the world to speak out against, but before speaking out, we are warned of the pitfalls. Today’s gospel warns us of the pitfall of familiarity breeding contempt. What other pitfalls might we encounter in speaking out? It is easy for instance to imagine that everyone’s faith should be the same as one’s own. Might we misjudge the mood, readiness or interest of our audience? Might we be tempted to patronize, or worse, bore out listeners?
For two thousand years inspirational communicators have stood up in Jesus’ wake and amplified his words. Today we are invited to choose our own words, weigh up