Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I don't get no respect (Mar 6)

The late American stand-up comic Jacob Cohen / Jack Roy (better known by his stage name of "Rodney Dangerfield") had a trademark line: "I don't get no respect." With a deadpan[1] delivery, he kept audiences howling with one improbable scenario after another. A few that are suitable for mixed company go like this:
I don't get no respect. Last week I told my psychiatrist, "I keep thinking about suicide." He told me from now on I have to pay in advance.
I tell ya when I was a kid, all I knew was rejection. My yo-yo, it never came back!
Most of the early life of Jesus is a mystery. He lived an ordinary, unremarkable life as son, big brother, and junior carpenter. Apparently, he was good at his trade: Justin Martyr reported that wooden plows Jesus made were still in use more than a century later. When he received his call to preach, and began touring the country working miracles and explaining God's Kingdom, word got back home. The hometown folks were curious. Then, when he finally addressed the local synagogue, they were scandalized. He may have put on freshly washed apparel, but he did not soar in wearing a halo. The people marveled at the elegance of his oration -- but did not at all like what they heard. In Luke's gospel, we get a more detailed report of the sermon. Here, though, Mark focuses on the audience reaction:
Mar 6:1 İsa oradan ayrılarak kendi memleketine gitti. Öğrencileri de ardından gittiler.
Mar 6:2 Şabat Günü olunca İsa havrada öğretmeye başladı. Söylediklerini işiten birçok kişi şaşıp kaldı. "Bu adam bunları nereden öğrendi?" diye soruyorlardı. "Kendisine verilen bu bilgelik nedir? Nasıl böyle mucizeler yapabiliyor?
Mar 6:3 Meryem'in oğlu, Yakup, Yose, Yahuda ve Simun'un kardeşi olan marangoz değilmi bu? Kızkardeşleri burada, aramızda yaşamıyor mu?" Ve gücenip O'nu reddettiler.
Mar 6:4 İsa da onlara, "Bir peygamber, kendi memleketinden, akraba çevresinden ve kendi evinden başka yerde hor görülmez" dedi.
Mar 6:5 Orada birkaç hastayı, üzerlerine ellerini koyarak iyileştirmekten başka hiçbir mucize yapamadı.
Mar 6:6 Halkın imansızlığına şaşıyordu. İsa çevredeki köyleri dolaşıp öğretiyordu.
And, a few words for today:
  • şaşmak -- to be astonished. şaşıp kaldı -- they were astonished / fell into astonishment. şaşıyordu -- He was astonished.
  • Bu adam bunları nereden öğrendi?-- This man / these / from where come / teachings?
  • Kendisine verilen bu bilgelik nedir? -- Who gave (him) this knowledge?
  • Nasıl böyle mucizeler yapabiliyor? -- How / these miracles / is he able to do?
They went on to discuss his ancestery, calling him "Mary's son" (Meryem'in oğlu) -- which must have been an insult in a patriarchal culture, that usually identified people by their fathers. People back then could count to nine, and Jesus was born full-term but three months ahead of schedule.

As this story begins, the people are astonished. When it ends, Jesus is astonished. The obdurate unbelief of his own people surprised even the Messiah. As John put it, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not."

To some extent, this may have been the "consultant effect." A consultant, the American idiom tells us, is "someone fifty miles from home with a briefcase."[2] Or, maybe we are blind to that which is closest to us. Familiarity breeds contempt, the old proverb says.

Or, maybe Jesus presents himself in deniable form. It takes faith to view the universe through the lens of one man's biography, and faith is how we interface with our Creator.

[1] "deadpan" means -- with a straight face that is incongruous with the hilarious comments being uttered. Frequently adopted by the "straight man" in comic duos.

[2] Or, "someone who borrows your watch, tells you the time, then charges you for that service."

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