Have you heard the expression, “familiarity breeds contempt”? The more you know something or someone, the more you start to find fault and dislike things about it or them? Closely akin to familiarity breeds content is the question, what is an expert? Numerous perspectives abound but two from well-known personalities shed light on the subject. Mark Twain, the well-known writer, said that an expert is, “an ordinary person from another town.” Whereas Will Rogers, cowboy, entertainer and writer, said “an expert is someone fifty miles from home with a briefcase.”
Although not aware of Twain and Rogers as he lived many years before them, Jesus knew the meaning of familiarity breeds contempt and that an expert is someone from out-of-town. In the gospel of Luke (Luke 4:21-30) from the Christian scriptures, we find Jesus speaking in the synagogue. The people spoke highly of him and were amazed at the “gracious words that came from his mouth.” Then someone said, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” And Jesus responded that a prophet is not accepted in his own native place.” His words challenged those who heard him, but he was too close, they knew his family. They could not accept his words. They were intent on throwing him down a hill. Anything so that the words he spoke would not capture their hearts. But they couldn’t harm him, “as Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”
Where did Jesus go? He really did not go anywhere. What took place to Jesus internally is what is most important. He could have said what we may say many times to those who do not believe or trust what we were saying, “I do know what I am talking about!” Jesus did not. He knew the truth about himself and God, he knew his true self. Jesus is God’s beloved and nothing could touch or harm that inner sense of self.
Are there times that you have felt hurled down a hill physically or figuratively? Situations where others did not believe what you said or what you stood for was not appreciated? Even though in the world in which we live familiarly might breed contempt or someone is not respected in their “home town” we learn from Jesus’ life that what is most important is that we are familiar with the divine within. Being accepted or listened to is not about externals, acceptance involves the internal and the divine spirit’s embrace. Jesus was familiar with the divine within which allowed him to “pass through them” unharmed. The divine is at the core of our beings, too. Familiarity with the divine in our lives and with others does not have to breed contempt it can also bring closeness, freedom, freshness, openness, friendship.
Our invitation is to embrace divine familiarity.
Blessings and peace.