Today’s readings are: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10; Psalm 48; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10; and Mark 6:1-13. Especially at first, I don’t know what to make of them: I can’t figure out how they all fit together. I’ve always especially struggled with the idea of Jesus being doubted– the “prophet without honor” — in his own hometown. It doesn’t make much sense to me, and it also doesn’t square with my observations of how people act when somebody from their hometown makes a name for himself. Hometowns, from what I’ve seen, are quick to embrace and to take pride in — not to belittle the accomplishments of — their native sons and daughters who achieve distinction.
Jesus’ lack of honor in his hometown seems especially to be the polar opposite of how David was treated once his chosen-ness was made evident. In today’s reading, David is honored everywhere, including at home. Indeed, all of Judah and eventually Israel took pride in being of David’s same “bone and flesh.”
So what are we to make of this?
Perhaps my focus has been on the wrong parts of these readings. In each of the readings, the predicate — the particular set of circumstances in which the subject finds himself — is different, but the mission is similar. David finds himself chosen as king; but it is not the choosing that is important, but the doing. He reigned for 40 years, doing (mostly) the Lord’s work. Paul finds himself afflicted with his famous “thorn in the flesh,” but he keeps preaching and doing God’s work. Jesus is belittled in his own hometown, but He and His disciples continue to cast out demons and cure the sick.
All are called by God the Father, and all responded appropriately (again, with some later stumbles by David) to that call to the Lord’s service.
Frankly, David seems to have it far easier than did Jesus or Paul; for him, his service seemed relatively smooth sailing, marred only by his own weaknesses of character. Paul suffered frequently and grievously, and of course Jesus took a whole world’s suffering upon Himself (and His disciples certainly followed difficult paths as well).
But in the end, all were called, and all served, no matter what the cost. That is likewise the example that we, no matter what befalls us, must emulate and follow.