14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – 2018

14B18.   Ezekiel 2:2-5.   God sends his spokesman to his people who do not want to be God’s People but rather want to belong to themselves and not to God.  God says, at least, they will know that Ezekiel is a prophet sent to them by God.

Mark 1-6a. Jesus “came to his native place.”  He preached in the synagogue to the people who knew him from birth.  “Many who heard him were astonished.  They said, ‘Where did this man get all this?’”  “’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.”  As Catholics we understand that using the terminology ‘brothers and sisters’ does not mean that they are the children of Mary but rather that they are the cousins of Jesus and so members of Jesus’ extended family.  Also, I understand that they “took offense at him” to mean that all those who knew him from birth or for many years before his public ministry thought that they really knew this fellow Jesus and that now Jesus was falsely trying to come off as someone totally different than the person that they had known all those past years.  However, he was proving himself to be someone who had come of age to be the person he was really meant to be all along.  Now he was manifesting the divine call he had received by the authority he was showing in his words and miracles.  The people in Jesus’ native place, his hometown, were too locked into a previous conception they had of the person of Jesus.  They were being too human and nature bound and not allowing the spiritual (Holy Spirit) to change them.  “So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people.”  The object of the miracles of curing people was to build on their faith in him and help increase their spiritual life.  Jesus had no basis to work miracles since they refused to have any faith in him.  “He was amazed at their lack of faith.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10.   “Because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given 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.’”  The notes that I read claim that Paul was afflicted, not by a physical or spiritual problem but, by person whom he found to be particularly challenging.  Paul had been gifted with quite many visions and ecstasies but, since he was not in heaven dead to this world, he still needed to live in the dirt of this earth.  Paul continues, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insult, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Paul is content because he knows that hardships endured with Christ on the cross lead to the joy of the resurrection. If we in our own right feel strong without God, that means that we have filled up ourselves with our own selves, leaving no room for God to be in us.  Feeling strong on our own right means that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that we can do for ourselves what only God can do for us.   Coming to the recognition and acceptance that only God can give us the strength we need to prosper spiritually against the difficulties of this world is the first step toward holiness. Jesus in John 15:5 said: “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”