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Today’s reading directly follows the events of last week’s Gospel. After performing two miracles, Jesus and his disciples are now in his hometown of Nazareth.

Before we explore today’s Gospel, let’s remember how the crowds responded to Jesus on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. When Jesus approached, the people were amazed. We can surmise that much of the crowd had great faith in Jesus. In fact, he cured a woman because of her faith and a child because of her father’s.

In Nazareth, the people are indeed astonished by Jesus’ teachings, but they lack faith.

They ask, “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?”

As a result of their rejection, Jesus is unable to perform great miracles.

Jesus is surprised by the lack of faith he witnesses, and we know it will not be the only time. As Jesus’ story continues, we see him begin to lose the freedom to preach where he wants and travel where he pleases.

Many of us in the United States will spend the day celebrating what Jesus will ultimately lose—his freedom.

Freedom is powerful, liberating, and deserved by all. But unfortunately, freedom is not enjoyed by all.

Freedom is the ability to travel borders and oceans without persecution. But freedom is also access to quality healthcare, education, and economic opportunities. It’s the ability to raise a family without worrying about how to provide daily meals.

Freedom is the ability to make choices—sometimes as simple as staying home from the market.

Volunteer Dr. Mike Pendleton at Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, Sudan in March 2020.

Volunteer Dr. Mike Pendleton at Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, Sudan in March 2020.

The excerpt we will conclude today’s reflection with is one we have referenced before. However, we feel there are few better examples to show just how important the freedom of choice is, especially while corners of the world are still struggling under the weight of the pandemic.

“In impoverished regions like Gidel, people are already living with a degree of risk. People die prematurely from things like, malaria, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal diseases.

People in Sudan live in the moment because they have no other choice. A mother, who fears getting the virus after going to the market, is still going to go because that’s her only means of providing food for her family. For her, there is no choice.” – Dr. Mike Pendleton, CMMB Volunteer

If you’re interested in revisiting Dr. Pendleton’s reflection on serving during COVID-19, you can do so by clicking HERE.

In grace and peace,


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*Portions of today’s reflection were adapted from and inspired by the Loyola Press Sunday Connection.