I like to think my jokes are funny. I always laugh at them. My children on the other hand don’t always think they’re funny because they’ve heard them a million times. It’s to the point now that I say a joke in part to hear the person laugh and in part to see that it’s not funny any more look on my kids’ faces. The problem is that they have heard them all before, at least a thousand times. Someone once said, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”
When Jesus returned to his hometown after healing Jairus’ daughter and the women with the 12 year long flow of blood he ran into the same problem. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue and the people were offended. Who is this? Where does he get this power? Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary? Aren’t his brothers and sisters here with us? Questions that betray their familiarity with Jesus. Because of their lack of faith Jesus wasn’t able to do much more than heal a few sick. (Mark 6:1-6)
Recently, someone enabled the closed caption on our television. At first I was bothered by the words scrolling across the bottom of the screen, but something interesting happened. We all began to see the words to the movies we were so familiar with and discovered that we had been hearing wrong all along! Familiar shows became new again.
Now, if only we could find a way to turn closed caption on for the Gospel scenes, for Jesus’ teachings and actions. Maybe we would see and hear things we had missed. Maybe we would discover that we are not as familiar with him as we thought. Perhaps one approach would be to read slowly, pause often to reflect on what we’ve read, and to put into practice what we hear. It wouldn’t hurt to do this with others as well.