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All the Readings for Today - A Call to Worship

Does Familiarity Breed Contempt?

Familiarity breeds contempt. How accurate


Son of Mary

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.“ - Mark 6:3

 Some folks are motivated by a deep, sometimes pathological desire to impress the people of their hometowns, families, and neighborhoods. All the folks who once put us down will have to acknowledge that they were wrong. The critics of our childhoods and youth will eat their words.

“Don’t count on it,” Jesus says.

"Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." 

Mary was flesh and blood and Jesus was her son, flesh, blood, and connected with her people.  We think very highly of Mary through the window of sacred history, but others saw the designation of Jesus as her son to be a justification for derision.

It was not her reputation for having conceived him out of wedlock at this point that framed their curses. That would come up at some point, but this was subtler. They accused him of being common and familiar. They knew him and his brothers and their familiarity bred contempt.

He was common and He was uncommon.

As the son of Mary, Jesus had history and culture, family and traditions. He was given the gifts of language, nuance, familial customs, memories, and relationships, but he was always, also the Son of God and that reality was easily obscured to those who knew Him best as a carpenter.

We must be careful not to allow familiarity to obscure holiness to our view. The ordinary may not be so ordinary at all. Our familiarity with the things of God can be a liability if we forget to seek the sacred amidst the profane.



" The expression familiarity breeds contempt was first used in English in the 1300s by Geoffrey Chaucer, in his work, Tale of Melibee. The first use of the phrase is credited to Publilius Syrus, a Roman citizen who began life as a Syrian slave and lived around 50 B.C. His master was so impressed with his intellect that he freed Publilius Syrus and educated him." -