Lectionary Readings: Ezekiel 2:2-5; 1 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6
PROBLEMATIC PASSAGES: THE EZEKIEL READING AND THE MARK READING TAKEN TOGETHER
Here, the problem is not so much with any particular verse or verses, but rather with the impact on the listener of hearing both passages read on the same Sunday. You might try putting yourself in the place of a parishioner listening to these readings. First, he or she hears Ezekiel condemning “the Israelites” as “rebels who have rebelled against me [God].” They are “hard of face and obstinate of heart . . . a rebellious house.”
Then, after the reading from Corinthians, the parishioner hears that people of Jesus’ own village “took offense at him,” such that “he was not able to perform any mighty deeds there.” They know his own family, watched him grow up and find it hard to believe that he is anything special. Probably they thought he was asserting too much authority or “making too much of himself.” It would not have been the first time that people found a familiar person “too big for his breeches.”
By itself, that is not a problem; Jesus did in fact encounter resistance. And this passage is not nearly as problematic as the parallel in Luke 4, in which the townspeople of Nazareth, his “native place,” (allegedly) attempt to kill him. Nevertheless, on this Sunday, in Mark, when paired with the first reading, in which Ezekiel is commissioned by God to go to the Israelites, regarding them as “rebels who have rebelled against me (God),” it can easily and unnecessarily lead to the impression that we are to think of the Jews who in Mark “resist” Jesus in Nazareth—and perhaps all Jews (?)–as “rebellious” toward God.
The attentive preacher might take note of this homiletically.