9 Jul 2012
Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 8, 2012
By Father J. Daniel Atkins, Holy Family Catholic Church, New Albany, Indiana
When Adele Lautrec, the mother of the famous impressionist painter, Toulouse Lautrec, was asked, “Madame Lautrec, who is your favorite artist?” she quickly replied, “Certainly not my son.” Adele could never understand why her son chose the nightclubs, dancehall and can-can girls of the red light district of Paris as subjects for his paintings. His associations with the “wrong kind of people” made her furious. They almost forced her to disinherit her son. It is quite possible that Adele Lautrec, for all of her son’s fame today still might insist that her son’s painting were not worth the canvas they were painted on.
Why is it do you think that the people closest to a prophet (That it what a true artist is) are many times the last to recognize his or her greatness. Why are friends, spouses, and parents sometimes the quickest to judge, condemn or laugh at a creative person, a person of conviction, a person of vision? Why were the people who were closest to Jesus – his relatives, neighbors and childhood friends – scandalized by him? Why did they find him too much? Have you ever had the experience of being rejected or misunderstood by someone you thought would sure to support you? If so you might understand how Jesus felt…and you might feel comforted that Jesus was rejected by his loved ones, too.
There is the old saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt” does fully address the question of why we often fail to see the holiness of those in our own house? The full answer lies in the description of our humanity in the first reading today. We are hard of face and obstinate of heart. We find a comfortable level of relating to our spouse, an in-law, a child, our brothers and sisters and we stay there. We come to expect no more from our loved one than what we see. That’s sad….because people are mysteries. And God sends beautiful mysteries into our families, homes and workplaces to tell us about himself.
I heard the story once about a man who was coaxed by a male friend of his into making a Marriage Encounter. The first night, when the couples were asked to say why they had come, he pulled no punches.
“I came to get my friends off my back.” At first he simply went through the motions of the retreat. But gradually something began to happen as he and his wife talked. On the final night of the retreat he stood up to give his response. He said, “When my wife and I came to this retreat, I thought it would be a boring weekend. I thought we knew everything we could possibly know about each other. I was dead wrong. At this point I feel as though on my wedding day the Lord gave me a wonderful present: my wife. I have just opened that present up this weekend.”
Our Father in Heaven gave the human race his very best when he gave us Jesus. Sadly, those people closest to him did not appreciate him. God gave them a present they never unwrapped. Mark tells us that Jesus wasn’t able to do the mighty deeds of love he wanted to do in his hometown, so much did his friends lack of faith distress him. Is it time for us to take another look at the people we live and work with. What miracles we might experience! What gifts! What presents yet to be unwrapped!