Commentary on the Gospel of

Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF and Andrzej Kobylski cmf

2 August, 2019, Matthew 13:47-53

The scene we may see today in the Gospel gives us a feeling of uncertainty. All the people gathered in the synagogue thought they knew Jesus, but what he told them and the way he was speaking were so unusual they couldn’t believe him and were suspicious. As a matter of fact, Jesus revealed himself after he left Nazareth, but there is something more, St Paul in the Letter to Philippians: he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being [Philippians 2:7]. It means that what people see when they see Jesus is only his external image.  If we need to know more, we need to listen to Jesus’ teaching which contains also all the signs he made to open the possibility to see behind walls.

The walls are our lack of knowledge, lack of reading the Bible and of course lack of faith. The same way as people of Nazareth saw Jesus, today some of us see the Church. Her external image might be weak, we know people who identify themselves with Her, we doubt about their abilities because we know their weaknesses. But again, who is really strong? St Paul in the Letter to Corinthians has written: If anyone weakens, I am weakened as well; and when anyone is made to fall, I burn in agony myself.  If I have to boast, I will boast of all the ways in which I am weak. [2Cor 11:29-30]. I am really strong only when Jesus makes me strong, I am strong with His Holy Spirit.


 Commentary by Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF

            “Amazement” is a response when something least expected happens before our eyes. It can then lead to openness of mind or its reverse. The townsfolk of Jesus were “amazed” at the wise words that proceeded from an ordinary young man of their own town. Of course, didn’t they know him, his parents, his brothers and sisters? All of them were very ordinary. So, how could this boy get such airs of a rabbi? Impossible. They closed their minds and shut him again in the original, familiar, and stereotyped box. 

             Social psychologists are fascinated by the phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. When a piece of new information arrives and it challenges our preconceived notions and images, it creates tension within our minds – we are now forced to rearrange our cognitive maps according to the new information. But it is a difficult task. Novelty is challenging, for we love to be creatures of set ways and habits. So, the most common way of resolving the cognitive dissonance is to simply refuse to “see” the challenging part of the new information or force it into the existing patterns using reductionism or familiar labelling. As Tony D’ Mello once observed, “The Good News is resisted, not because it is good, but because it is new.” 

           How open and willing am I to let the light of new revelations shatter my familiar ways of knowing, loving, and living, and be shaped for the better?           

Paulson Veliyannoor, CMF


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