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Along the Fringe

I have been a guest during the Annual Pueblo Feast days which include traditional dances, cultural activities, arts, crafts and Southwest feasts. One can smell the balsam and cedar wood burning as one enters a Pueblo household. We are treated to dishes native to the area, lamb stew, fry bread, sopaipillas; lots of red and green chile peppers, posole, and slow-cooked beans all served with a warm hospitably.

I am reminded that today’s Pueblo Indigenous villages look like the first century Jewish villages of the Galilee. Both are built of stone, mud, and other local material. I can imagine entering a Galilean 1st century house and getting the same experience on their religious holidays as Jesus would have. Food such as olives, figs, grapes, lamb, fish, bread, legumes/lentils or beans, melons, pomegranates, dates, nuts, honey and raisins would be a typical meal of that period.

Galilee must have had special meaning for the first Christians

As I read the Bible, a question materialized, as to the constant mention of Galilee in the Gospel stories. More than 67 times the Gospels mention “Galilee,” “Galileans,” and places in Galilee. Most of us know that Jesus and many of His disciples were Galilean.  Galilee must have had special meaning for the first Christians to be mentioned numerous times in the Bible.

So the question: Why is Jesus’ tribe, clan identity and lineage as a Jewish Galilean from Nazareth an important facet of the incarnation? And what does it reveal about the beauty, harmony and originality of Jesus’ redemptive life and message?  In what ways did the gospel bring healing, liberation and transformation to the marginalized and excluded?  What meaning does Jesus’s identity as a Galilean hold for Indigenous people in the context of an Anglo-American culture that marginalized and excluded us?

Many negative stereotypes about the Galilean Jews thrived

The residents of Galilee were mostly poor. They were exploited by powerful officials, some of whom considered them uneducated, polyethnic and rebellious.  In fact, many negative stereotypes about the Galilean Jews thrived and Jesus would have lived and moved along the fringes of Capernaum. In addition, Galilean Jews spoke with a regional accent (Mt 26:73) apparently regarded as mediocre and were scorned by people in Jerusalem.

Jesus, in being incarnated as a Galilean Jew, a tradesmen in a backward village, Jesus became one of the rejected and marginalized people of society, along with the millions of people who continue to suffer exclusion and rejection simply because of race or origin. 

Help us to invite others to dine at your feast table

I believe Jesus came to break the alienating and generational racism that hinders the unity of Americans and relegates certain individuals and entire groups to unworthiness and inferiority. We see the mind of God and vision of Jesus as rooted in, yet transcending, his experiences in Galilee: a vision that could serve as a narrative for the world and to Native American people giving insight to those deprived of seeing and appreciating their own dignity and self-worth.

So we pray: Help us to invite others to dine at your feast table, to be washed in the waters of baptism, to accept forgiveness, and to always acknowledge that grace offered is the way for us to be reconciled with you. 

Photo by Jeff Burak on Unsplash

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