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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus is rejected by the people of his own town. For as he says, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.” But he astounded crowds throughout Galilee because he taught with authority.

As far as we can determine, Jesus was not formally trained in a rabbinic school, nor was he educated to be a temple priest or a scribe, nor was he a devotee of the Pharisees, the Saduccees, or the Essenes. He was, if I can use a somewhat anachronistic term, a layman. And this made his arrival on the public scene all the more astounding. 

For this Nazarene carpenter with no formal religious education or affiliation began to speak and act with an unprecedented authority. To the crowds who listened to him preach, he blithely declared, “You have heard it said, but I say . . .” He was referring, of course, to the Torah, the teaching of Moses, the court of final appeal to any faithful rabbi; and therefore, he was claiming for himself an authority greater than that of Israel’s most significant teacher and lawgiver.