On Being Nobody in Particular

Have you ever looked at the list of Jesus’ relatives in Luke 3? Most of them were nobody in particular.

Like Heli, Jesus’ grandpa. Who was that guy? He was the grandfather of Jesus Christ and we don’t know a lick about him. Did he ever lead a religious rebellion or serve as governor or do anything noteworthy?

Probably not.

Probably he was just nobody in particular.

… worked hard, loved his family, enjoyed his friends, and screwed up on occasion.

Maybe he had to keep an eye on his grandson once in a while, maybe even taught him to skip stones or had to scold him for climbing on the roof. “Jesus! Get down from there before you break your neck!” he’d say, and he wouldn’t be swearing.

No one really knows anything about Heli because he was nobody in particular.

And who were Josek and Rhesa and Menna and Addi and Jorim and Melia the dozens of others never mentioned anywhere else? Probably they were nobody in particular.

Every one of them ate tens of thousands inconsequential meals with hundreds of thousands of inconsequential people and nothing that they said or did was ever remembered 100 years later. They were not, for the most part, Old Testament heroes or political figures or people of notoriety written about by some ancient historian.

But their names are there, in that long, long list of nobodies in particular. The only Somebody in the whole universe apparently loves being in relation to unremarkable, invisible, rarely-ever-mentioned nobodies like his grandpa, Heli.

Dirty shepherds and seductive hookers. Mafia tax collectors and swearing fishermen. The sick, the dying and the dead. They all enraptured the heart of the only Somebody who matters.

The two people that Jesus meets who are recognized by the world are Herod and Pilate. The somebodies of the world had him stripped, whipped and cut him to death.

Sometimes, when I want to be a somebody, I think of all the nobodies in particular around Jesus. Like Heli. His grandpa. And I tell myself that If Jesus spent most of his time around nobodies in particular, then the obscure, overworked, single moms and the homeless men and women lining up at 5pm to get a shelter bed are in a pretty good position to be near Jesus.

Then, trying to be somebody doesn’t seem quite so important.

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