In our gospel this Sunday, we are told that the people were “astonished” by Jesus. This gives us great insight into how Jesus the child and young man related to his neighbours as he was growing up. He apparently didn’t work miracles, breathe life into clay birds to impress friends or strike an entire group of hostile men blind (as some fanciful accounts tell it) or surpass all other children in town with his intelligence and spirituality. Their query “Where did this man get all this ?” indicates that Jesus hadn’t impressed them as someone out of the norm. On the contrary, they may have considered him a bit lower than others, thinking him to have been conceived in sin to parents who didn’t wait until after the wedding. The crowd’s astonishment was not one of being impressed so much as being bewildered by Jesus’ preaching and power.
So Jesus could not work many miracles in his home town of Nazareth, due to their lack of faith. This is probably why Jesus chose Capernaum, rather than Nazareth, to be his ministry base whilst he was in Galilee. Jesus told the woman in last week’s gospel “Your faith has saved you,” a phrase he repeats in other healings. While Jesus has the power, our faith opens the door to let Jesus go to work in us. Our lack of faith, conversely, creates a block to that same power. “Lord, I do believe, help my lack of faith”