14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mark 6:1-6
I think we all know someone who has an opinion and judgment about everything in the world — sports, politics, science. Maybe we are going to be with a person like that around a table this holiday weekend. And usually there is some cynicism and negativity and arrogance with these opinions. When we listen, we can sometimes sense a toxicity coming from the person and their statements. Sometimes we can sense ourselves reacting and getting frustrated.
We are not alone. In the Gospel today, the people in Jesus’ town thought they knew everything about him. They had their own opinion and judgment. They focused on the familiar and they ignored the mystery. The result was toxic negativity. And so Jesus was not able to do so many great things there.
We have medicines for things that are toxic. We avoid the poison of becoming too familiar with our faith by constantly entering mystery. This is the great value of contemplative practice, for example. We sit in silence, we become aware, we do not judge, we do not place things in categories. And little by little, this discipline of prayer becomes the discipline of our daily life.
Here’s a great expression of what it is like to travel from judgment to wonder. Father Greg Boyle has worked for many years with gang members in Los Angeles. People definitely have their opinions about the poor and about gangs. He once said this: “Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.”
On this Independence Day in the United States, let us declare our independence from the need to judge everything. Yes to wonder and awe, no to judgments and opinions.