Very often in social situations the first question asked after introductions have been made is: “What do you do?” Whether we like to admit it or not, sometimes judgments are made on the basis of the answer to that question. If someone says, “I’m a Harvard economics professor,” I might think, “Uh oh, I’m out of my league!” or “Boring!” The term stay-at-home mom has gone through lots of titular transitions in the last half-century in the attempt to make staying home with children recognized as real and sometimes difficult work! We value professions over jobs which might be fine if we didn’t assign value in that way to the person doing the work.
This morning the gospel is a great example of what I’m saying. Mark set a scene (MK 6:1-6) in which Jesus goes to his hometown and teaches in the synagogue on the Sabbath. People are astonished at what he says, trying to figure out how he got to be so wise since they’re thinking (and asking!) is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary? They also mention all his siblings (men by name and women as “his sisters”) implying that none of them have achieved the wisdom that he has. If all that wasn’t judgmental enough, the gospel then says that they took offense at him. In other words, “Who does he think he is, talking to us like that?!”
We are funny creatures, rejecting what we don’t understand and resenting the person who might be able to help us if only we would allow it. And what a tragedy to prejudge someone’s interior life and goodness on what they do for a living. Don’t get me wrong; I value a job well done and the effort it takes to achieve what people do. It’s just that we are more than what we do and our best achievement is who we are and who we are becoming. Don’t you agree?