2018-07-08, 14th B, Rejected but not Defeated

Homily 07-08-18
14th Sunday Ordinary Time, Cycle B
Ez 2:2-5; Ps 123:1-2, 2, 3-4; 2 Cor 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6

(Scriptures included after homily)

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If you ever had to face rejection by those, you thought should have been your strongest proponents, then you’d have a good feel for what the Prophet Ezekiel, St. Paul and Jesus faced in today’s readings.

You know, every week we gather here together at Mass as this awesome family of God’s children.  And among us, without our even realizing it, there are doctors and writers, inventors and musicians, carpenters and farmers, artists and professors, moms and dads, and some pretty brilliant kids!  And yet, who among us, would have ever known these facets of each others’ lives?  We’re sitting within a sea of precious gems, and we may not even know their names.

As grown adults, then, if we were to go back to that place where WE grew up, would those old acquaintances of ours believe that we really ARE the same kid they used to know, eons earlier, or even just a few years back?  “Isn’t he the store owner’s kid, who used to scoop our ice cream and sell us candy?”  “What’s he doing preaching to hundreds of people?”  Would they take offense at us, and boot us out of town, just as they did to Jesus?  Would WE do the same to the incognito doctor, or artist, or famous musician sitting right next to us today?

Sometimes accepting surprises about people, who we thought we knew, can be pretty hard to do. The trick is: and it’s a learned response: IF we can accept the differences that we find in people, from our own preconceived prejudice of them, then we might even find ourselves rewarded with a miracle or two.

St. Mark tells us that Jesus was amazed at the lack of faith of His hometown neighbors.  After they personally listened to His teachings; after they heard the stories of His healing lepers and raising a young girl from death; their prejudice and their pride bound them in shackles, that kept them from the grace, the healing, the mercy, and the freedom that Jesus would have showered upon them if they just believed.  And it wasn’t something Jesus refused to offer.  It was their own refusal to receive it.

The Prophet Ezekiel, one of my favorite prophets, witnessed that same phenomena, 600-years earlier, with the Israelites in Babylonian exile.  It was a situation they would never have been in, if they had remained faithful to God in the first place.  God called them “hard of face,” “obstinate of heart,” and “rebellious.”

And yet, there was Ezekiel, an Israelite priest himself, who, time after time, allowed the Holy Spirit to speak through him; submitting himself to humiliation and mockery, in order to bring God’s rebellious people back to His Love.

It’s funny how sometimes we can be our own worst enemies, in our rebellion.  And yet, it also teaches us, that it’s very difficult to change other people’s attitudes, while it’s also a constant reminder to us, to watch our own attitudes.  Because we really are not the same people we were as kids, or maybe even, just two days ago.

“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin, and in his own house.”

It’s a sad state of human nature.  But it is not something that cannot be overcome!  And WE are the community, we are the family, with the wisdom and the power to do just that!  Because, through our faith in Jesus, and in our knowledge of the struggles and successes of people like St. Paul and the Prophets, even though we may feel weak and rejected, it is THERE that we are the strongest in the power of the Holy Spirit to make a change in our world.

And it all begins:

Here – in our community,

Here – in God’s greatest Gift to us,
(Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament) and

Here – in our own hearts!

Believe!

 jmp 07-08-18

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 07-08-18
Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time, B

First Reading:  Ez 2:2-5

As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard the one who was speaking say to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.  Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.

But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD! And whether they heed or resist – for they are a rebellious house – they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 123:1-2, 2, 3-4

R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

To you I lift up my eyes who are enthroned in heaven. As the eyes of servants are on the hands of their masters.

R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

As the eyes of a maid are on the hands of her mistress, So are our eyes on the LORD, our God, till he have pity on us. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy. Have pity on us, O LORD, have pity on us, for we are more than sated with contempt; our souls are more than sated with the mockery of the arrogant, with the contempt of the proud.

R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

Second Reading:  2 Cor 12:7-10

Brothers and sisters: That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.

Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Gospel:  Mk 6:1-6

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.

They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”  So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

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