I love to travel and I think I share this love with many other people. We have this drive to see other places, other peoples. It is often said that travel broadens and helps us to appreciate different cultures and ways of life. We come to realize that things are not always the way we are at home.
As well, travel will often help us to appreciate what we have at home. Frequently, what is all around us all the time becomes so familiar that we take it for granted. We fail to appreciate the wonder that is right before our eyes.
The Gospel writer Mark tells us the story of Jesus coming to his hometown. (Mark 6:1-6) He is a man with a message and he begins to teach in the local synagogue. People are astounded by what he is saying. They are even more astounded by the fact that it is him who is teaching.
He was a hometown guy, someone they had known and seen around for years. They knew him and they knew his family. Jesus was with them all the time. He was the carpenter down the street, the neighbour around the corner. How could such an ordinary everyday person like this Jesus be teaching this message?
Jesus recognized that like the prophets before him, he was taken for granted, not listened to, even rejected. “Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, among their own kin, and in their own house.” Familiarity stood in the way of recognizing the message and the messenger who had come among them.
There is in all of us a blindness that blocks our recognition of the wonder of God and the presence of God expressed in all around us. Some of our inability to see comes from being so busy. Our attention is so focused on what we have to do that we cannot look around and see what is happening in our lives. Some of our blindness comes from simply seeing things, experiences, even people as too familiar, too common and ordinary.
The presence of God is all around us always. The spirit of the Risen Jesus is ever present with us. All of this is - too ordinary. Jesus reveals and speaks the message of the Kingdom in every act of love, every experience of compassion, every moment of mercy and care. But it can be just too ordinary and so we cannot see what is right before our eyes.
The persons, the events, the times in which we find such good just cannot be recognized because of course they are always with us, so we do not notice them. We take them for granted. Perhaps summer can be a time when the busyness tails off. It may be an opportunity to look around in different places, with different persons. We might even discover, or rediscover those everyday places, those common experiences and those familiar people who are always with and whom we take for granted. These can be the prophets among us. With open eyes, hearts and minds, we may discover Jesus, and a message of love and compassion in the ordinary of our lives.