Fr Dermot shares the grace of encouragement

In our Church celebration of the Eucharist, the Gospel reading was about the good Lord coming back to his home town of Nazareth where He had grown up as a boy.

The Very Rev Dermot McCaughan Parish Priest.

They knew Him as a child, the son of Joseph and the son of Mary.

“He’s coming home” was perhaps a phrase that His parents might have used and they would have looked forward in excitement to His homecoming.

They certainly knew His family – they knew His father’s carpenter’s shop. He was an ordinary Nazarene, one of their own.

So where did He get all this wisdom? How could He talk with such authority? But they wouldn’t – couldn’t accept Him. They saw Him only as the boy next door. Filled with envy and incredulity they refused to see who He really was.

His neighbours would have known that God was working through Jesus in a special way, that there was something unique and different about this extraordinary young man. But familiarity breeds contempt – they couldn’t see past their expectations and prejudices. They were unable to see God’s presence in the ordinary and the familiar. Jesus had no choice but to walk away. He could have been profoundly discouraged by the reaction of his townspeople. It was Jesus’ very ordinariness that made it difficult for the people of Nazareth to see Him as God saw Him, in all His mystery.

Sometimes it can seem there is no one we can turn to for words of encouragement. Everybody is busy with their own affairs, and this daily hustle and bustle can make us forget our moral obligation to each other – whether it be the role we play in our family or in the general community. And when we are in the middle of a trial, words as simple as ‘Don’t lose hope’ – ‘I believe in you’ - can make all the difference. Encouragement can do wonders for everyone’s daily journey.

Rather than ever ridicule and condemn, it was always the heartfelt prayer of Jesus to recognise and welcome greatness in others. There is a world of difference between seeking greatness for one’s self and giving honour to others. We often take for granted the very things and very people that most deserve our gratitude. There is an old saying which reminds us “It’s not where you are in life, it is who you have by your side that matters”. I believe that appreciation is the highest form of prayer, for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts

Appreciation helps us push through the bad times and we should never underestimate the power of positive and encouraging words. To know that there is someone who believes in us is like a light at the end of a tunnel. Truly appreciate life and people, and you will find that you have more of it!

No one – not even Jesus of Nazareth should ever have to walk away because of lack of appreciation and affirmation.