The Gospel reading from the Mass for Friday of the 17th Week of Ordinary Time is Matthew 13:54-58.

After revealing glimpses of His Kingdom of Heaven through a series of parables in Matthew 13, Christ returns to His “own country” (the literal meaning of the Greek is “fatherland”) of Nazareth to reveal Himself with “wisdom and mighty works.”  A Nazarene who speaks Aramaic with a Nazarene accent, Christ desired that His own people of Nazareth would come to Him.

His townsfolk are impressed but cannot overcome their skepticism of the source of Christ’s power, and ultimately, His identity.  Twice they ask, “where did this man get this”, unable to reconcile His “wisdom and mighty works” with being neighbors of Mary, Joseph and Jesus for many years.  His hometown people’s response to Him is difficult to understand. The three most holy people who ever lived, the Perfect Son, the Immaculate Conception and the Father’s hand-picked human father for His Son, have not been recognized for their holiness, despite living in Nazareth for 20+ years. Worse, Mary and Joseph are insulted, demeaned as a couple incapable of being the parents of the Messiah. As Christ discloses elsewhere, many see and hear but fail to understand and believe (Matt 13:13).

In their hardness, the people are offended and reject God in their midst; they have disbelief, not just little faith. Christ, with sorrow, condemns their disbelief (“a prophet is not without honor…”). Unable to be constrained by men (or their disbelief), Christ chooses to not to perform additional miracles in Nazareth.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, full of Divine Mercy, Christ is mysteriously willing to remain hidden and to patiently accept rejection by His creation. Divine Wisdom, Christ’s powerful teaching is recognized and He confirms that He is the Divine Prophet. Divine Physician, Christ’s mighty healing deeds are recognized by all. Divine King, Christ rebukes the people’s disbelief.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ is confronted with resistance, disbelief and hostility and will be murdered by men whom He created. Be awed at Christ’s indomitable will and perseverance to overcome all obstacles in His desire to save all men.

2) Many men who have a conversion in Christ, face the challenge and heartache of family and friends who refuse to believe. Review the Catechism’s teaching (CCC 2123-2128) on Atheism (denial of God) and Agnosticism (uncertain of God) and pray for Christ to show you how to evangelize your family and friends.

3) Like Jesus’ townsfolk, many men today overlook Mary and Joseph, whose holiness surpasses all but their Son. Commit to develop a vibrant and steadfast devotion to the Immaculate Conception (CCC 491-493, 971, 2673-2679) and Saint Joseph (CCC 437, 531, 2177). Christ expects no less.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Sorrowful Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Passion and Death of our Lord Jesus Christ

Virtue of the Day – Faith

Corporal Work of Mercy – To visit the sick

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To forgive all injuries