1st Reading: Ezekiel 2:2-5: These rebels shall know that there is a prophet among them.
Resp. Psalm: 122(123): Our eyes on the Lord till he shows us his mercy.
2nd Reading: 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10: The Lord’s power is at its best in weakness.
Gospel: Mark 6:1-6: ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country’.
1. We sometimes believe that our Christian life should be easy and trouble-free, and many of us fall into the habit, from time to time, of thinking we are rather good Catholics. We like people to admire us and look up to us. We like to be thought of as “good”. The scriptural passages of today’s Mass seems to do away with any idea that our Christian life will be easy or offer any consolation prize or bonus in this life.
2. The prophet Ezekiel, in the Old Testament reading, heard the Lord speak, “ I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me.” The uncompromising message continued, “Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.” Like a priest being sent by the Bishop to the most troublesome parish in the Diocese, or a supervisor being promoted to be area manager of the most disorganized part of the company, Ezekiel can expect trouble and rejection from his fellow men! He was even told not to mourn the death of his wife but going through that all kinds of trouble God promise to restore the citizens of Israel Ez 24:15-27.
3. Saint Paul, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians writes about having received “a thorn in the flesh.” After his conversion he became a tireless apostle, traveling and enduring all kinds of hardships, spending himself in the service of Christ and His Church. He was rewarded with a “thorn in the flesh”, sometimes translated as “a painful physical ailment.” He continued his apostolic work despite the fact that he was in a state of periodic weakness and pain. Paul believed that God had sent the thorn in his flesh to make him humble.
4. Our Lord Jesus Christ was not exempted from difficulty and rejection even in his hometown-Nazareth. Despite the fact that Christ showed great wisdom and insight that surpasses anyone at His time, the saying is true that “familiarity breeds contempt.” The people who had known Him, and who knew His relatives, would not accept Him; His teaching would not take root, His words were misconstrued, His divinity was not recognized and His humanity knew rejection by the members of His own community.
5. What lessons can we learn from these of experiences difficulty, hardship and rejection? We should never expect that living a faithful Catholic life will bring us easy rewards or popularity. The promise of grace at our Confirmation was made by the Lord for a purpose- to sustain and uphold us during our bad times so that we can remain faithful. At the Presentation in the Temple, Our Lord was identified in Simeon’s prophecy as a “sign that will be rejected”. We can only imagine the cost of living among opposition of all forms. He himself was steadfast in the face of rejection and opposition but all who believe in Him, He made sons of God. John 1: 12
6. In our own, less dramatic way, each one of us are called by God. Our task on the Lord’s behalf is not only to preach the good news but to also be a Catholic sign of contradiction. Perhaps you are called to refuse to be drawn into prevailing dishonesty in the place where you work. Maybe God is asking you to uphold the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of life in the face of everyone around you dismissing the old or the unborn as disposable. Perhaps in the face of family pressure you are called to unfailing attendance at Mass on Sundays and Holy Day of Obligation. You must recognize the fact that once you believe in Jesus Christ and follow in His path, the world would hate you and since Jesus was already hated by the world, they will surely hate you because you belong to Jesus.
7. Again, we must always bear in mind that in order not to become proud, God may not send us physical pain, but he does offer us numerous opportunities every day to chip away at our pride: cheerfully doing unpleasant tasks, accepting reminders of our own failings and weaknesses, receiving praise with humility. So we must open up our hearts to his presence, recognize how weak we are and pray for His will to be done so that we can bring good fruit out of what seemed a perennial disaster.
8. The all-embracing love of the Eternal Word comprehends, understands and touches every instance of human pain, disappointment, rejection, abandonment, loneliness. This has been made possible because Our Lord experienced all this in his truly human nature. Every time we look on a crucifix we recall our Lord’s suffering for our salvation. This is sometimes too much for us to grasp, too much for us to handle. But in today’s gospel, we see how he was handling rejection, disappointment, amazement from the lack of faith of his own people till the sufferings that lay ahead, but necessary part of His life, a foretaste of the Way of the Cross, part of his training In abandonment to the will of the Father. Our Lord sees us as we are and we have obstacles to overcome, as we follow the Way of the Cross in our small way, may he grant us an increase in grace and prepare us for the vision of his glory. Amen.
Do have a wonderful Sunday and don’t miss the blessings God has uniquely extend to your good today.
Fr. Joseph OSJ.