“Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

As a youth, Jesus went missing for three days, causing his parents to go out and search for him. Eventually, they find him in the temple, at the age of twelve, teaching.

His response to the concern is pretty much: Chill out, where’d you think I’d be?


Based on everything I’ve shown you about what captivates me, why wouldn’t I be in the temple? This is where I feel at home. 

Despite his prowess, prophesy being fulfilled through his actions, and people saying he was the guy, there was still so much doubt as to his identity – even from his closest friends.

Later on in the Gospel of Luke, he reads from the scroll of Isaiah, sits down and all eyes are on him. He adds, “Today the scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

The people are described as being grateful, but then an important, and cutting (I suggest) question is asked:

Isn’t this the son of Joseph?

Can this be interpreted in a positive light? Sure. People could have been psyched because they knew Joseph and their response is – WHAT?? I KNOW HIM!

The way I read it, at least for this sake of argument, is that he was being cut down. Trying to remind him of his place in society.

Sometimes, no matter what we do, our past stays with us.

“A Zebra never changes its stripes!”

Often times I’ve heard this when it comes to interacting with someone who has proven to be unreliable or not trustworthy.

It’s sound advice and makes sense – but it can be problematic when applied as a blanket statement. Similar to when they criticized Jesus’ background – Can anything good come from Nazareth?


I’ve heard this said about Baltimore and many other cities.

Maybe you’ve heard it said about where you’re from or about your family.

It’s unfair and demeaning.

In an article on Discernment by John Whitney S.J. he stresses that to effectively assess and make decisions – truthful, accurate, and non-biased experiences need to be shared.

When reflecting back on my own life – something I’ve been asking recently is,

“Did it really happen like that?”

“Is this level of frustration warranted?” 

This isn’t because I’m a liar, but it’s because at my worst I forget my humility.

I forget where I came from.

And the further I get from humility, the closer I get to despair.

Despair distorts my vision of the truth.

If the people in the temple took a moment to pause, look at the promise Jesus had shown and not measured his worth simply on his family or position in society, they would have been able to see the gift right in front of them.

When I’m able to get to the truth of the matter, unedited, proper actions can be taken.

However, this doesn’t erase the past! The issues I’ve faced or rights I’ve attempted to wrong still might leave their marks (or stripes!) but with this, I need to follow the advice of Fr. Gregory Boyle in his book Barking to the Choir:

Humility returns the center of gravity to the center. It addresses the ego clinging, which supplies oxygen to our suffering. It calls for a light grasp. For the opposite of clinging is not letting go but cherishing. This is the goal of the practice of humility. That having a “light grasp” on life prepares the way for cherishing what is right in front of us.

We can’t edit the past or go back.

Reflection is the closest we’ll ever get to a time machine.

It invites us to look back, with humility, and see things as they are.

Some of the best surprises come when we’re honest, give people a chance, and approach situations with open arms.

So you’re telling me that carpenter’s son is my savior? 

Yeah, why not?

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