Nazareth’s rejection of Jesus highlights the need for people to have an open and trusting disposition towards God in order to receive miracles, Pope Benedict XVI said on July 8.
“In today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us that if we live with an open and simple heart, nourished by true faith, we can recognize the presence of God in our lives and follow his holy will,” said the Pope during his Sunday Angelus address.
For the first time this summer, the Pope was addressing pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
He dwelt upon the Gospel passage in which Christ is not accepted by his hometown. The evangelist St. Mark records how Jesus said to them: “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”
Pope Benedict said this reaction was “understandable,” as “familiarity at the human level makes it difficult to go beyond that and to be open to the divine dimension.”
Jesus himself recognized this fact, drawing a parallel with “the example of the prophets of Israel, who had been the object of contempt in their own home.”
Because of the hostile reaction in Nazareth, however, Jesus “could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them,” records St. Mark.
This is because “the miracles of Christ are not a display of power, but signs of the love of God, which is made present where it encounters the faith of man,” Pope Benedict explained.
Rather than resign himself to this rejection, however, Christ is “amazed” at the people’s lack of faith.
“How is it possible that they do not recognize the light of truth?” asked the Pope. “Why are they not open to the goodness of God, who has willed to share our humanity?”
The answer, he said, is that they do not recognize the great miracle of God's incarnation in Jesus Christ, a reality to which modern society can also be blind.
“While we too always seek other signs, other wonders, we do not realize that the he is the real sign, God made flesh; he is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God hidden in a human heart, in a human face.”
The Pope then led the pilgrims in the praying of the Angelus before addressing them in various languages, wishing them all “a pleasant stay in Castel Gandolfo and a blessed Sunday!”