Director of Faith and Mission

5 July 2024, 1:45PM

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Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. 

Mark 6:4-6 

Living in Tasmania’s North West is like living in a big country town. You meet familiar faces, and you get to know people who know people you know! And like most other Australians, we take a mild interest in what people are up to, how successful they are at sport or school, who they married, how many children, what part of town they now live in. Men might be interested in whether they hunt or fish, what kind of car or ute they drive, how hard they work, what kind of beer they drink (and how much) and whether or not he’s a good bloke – worthy or capable of being a friend. 

Women might (and here, fearfully, I tread on shaky ground) want to know where their favourite shopping places in Melbourne or Launceston are, how they chose their children’s names, how to find time to themselves or how often they organise girls’ nights, what their quickest and most delicious meals for children are, whether it’s a clean dry white or a mature rounded red. 

We put this stuff into our heads and hearts. It’s how we get to know one another. I married into a North West family. In my first teaching stint at Marist, I taught two relatives by marriage in my home room and got to know many others. In Latrobe and Ulverstone I taught yet even more, and worked alongside other teachers who were related to my wife. Even here in my third stint at the College, I am related by marriage to a staff member. 

It’s not surprising that having taught at Ulverstone, Deloraine, and Latrobe, there are interesting family links – in this case the family of Joe and Enid Lyons, whose children variously attended each of these schools. The story of Latrobe local hero Teddy Sheean is one that is owned and celebrated by the Latrobe and wider communities. Yet, like our Australian brothers and sisters across this great land, we too have a tendency to like taking a swipe at those who are just a wee little too big for their boots, just a mite too successful for their own good, who just need bringing down a peg or two, you know, just for their own good… 

Nazareth, Judea, circa 29 AD was no different. Mark (6:1 – 6) records Jesus returning to his home with his disciples. Being the Sabbath Jesus goes to the synagogue and begins teaching: in response to his preaching and confronted by the stories of miracles elsewhere, his relatives and neighbours decry him, ‘This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary…. And they would not accept him… He was amazed at their lack of faith.’ 

To know Jesus, one must accept him. There can be no miracles in our own lives unless we too believe. We are rich, full human beings and all the details of our lives that we share in friendship and neighbourliness are, but shadows compared to what the Lord himself knows about us.   

Mr Peter Douglas 

Director of Faith and Mission