Being taken for granted never feels very good and treating family or friends that way is a guaranteed way to damage a relationship. We grow so accustomed to someone’s presence, their individual gifts, the jobs they do, the role they fill in our lives that we may begin to feel jealous by their success and deny their value. None of us like to be treated this way. So, why do we do this to one another? Why do we take God for granted? Why do we doubt His abilities?
Jesus experienced this exact thing in today’s gospel reading (Mark 6: 1-6). After having traveled to the various towns in the region, teaching, performing miracles, healing the sick, Jesus comes to his hometown. But when he tried to preach in the synagogue, those present doubted his words, questioned his motives, dwelled in disbelief, and rejected all of his works. “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…?” Seeing Jesus take on a different role made others uncomfortable. He was supposed to fill the role of simple carpenter and not threaten the position of those in leadership within the community. The people had taken for granted that Jesus would always be that simple carpenter. But, Jesus was teaching others humility, revealing their jealousy which has its roots in pride.
Reflecting on this scripture reminded me of a writing by renowned theologian, Karl Rahner. He challenged the reader to examine their understanding of God. Rahner pointed out how we expect God to fulfill a role which we define, thus putting Him in a box. Often we address God in our prayer and expect Him to do things according to our own agenda. We take for granted His role in our lives and what He provides that when He doesn’t do what we expect, we are often very angry. How dare God not do things according to our plan for life!
In our relationships we also have expectations of others. When those expectations are not met things seem to fall apart. Growing up in a family with an older sister and four older brothers, I was always expected to play the role of the baby sister, the one who always needed to be guided and taught. But, when my older siblings were busy with their own lives, little sister grew up, went to college, studied, received several degrees, married, and had kids of her own. I no longer fill the role of the one needing their guidance thus challenging my siblings to pause and listen. Now that both of our parents are gone, our relationships are changing, causing discomfort and presenting challenges to put aside our pride and be open to the love of Jesus dwelling within each of us.
Where are your relationships changing? Do you take others for granted and fail to see the newfound gifts of those with whom you are the most familiar? Often the Holy Spirit touches our lives and we want to share the new life we have found in the Spirit. Sadly, those close to us are sometimes just not open to hearing about the movement of God in our lives. All of us get stuck in a box and want others to dwell there too.
Lord Jesus, help us to be open to all you bring into our lives and into the lives of those close to us. May we put aside our pride, personal agendas, and need to control so we can truly rejoice in discovering YOU anew.