14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle B

1st Reading – Ezekiel 2: 2-5

Abraham Heschel describes a prophet as, “a person, not a microphone.  S/He is endowed with a mission, with the power of a word not his own that accounts for his greatness –but also with temperament, concern, character, and individuality.  It is not only what s/he said but also what s/he lived.  The prophet was an individual who said No to his/her society, condemning its habits and assumptions, its complacency, waywardness, and syncretism,” (The Prophets, p. x-xv).

When have you been obstinate of heart?  Did you wish God set your feet straight?  What prophets are among us now?  How are we prophets?

The daily reflection from http://onlineministries.creighton.edu says, “We are prophets when our lifestyle reflects an alternative to the easy conformities of our cultures.”  We must live as we are meant to live.  But the right way to live isn’t always the easy way.  Ezekiel is trying to convince a people who see God as a tyrant that he is a prophet for them.  Not an easy task.

The term “Son of Man” gives emphasis to the human being who is to be the bearer of the divine message. Ezekiel saw himself as called to this title; so did Jesus.  (R. Fuller, “Scripture In Depth” http://liturgy.slu.edu )

2nd Reading – 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10

What do you make of this?  It is questionable what Paul’s burden is, but we all have our own weaknesses and burdens.  Some commentators say he had epilepsy, some an ophthalmic condition or maybe depression.  From http://liturgy.slu.edu, “But if, like him, we learn to be ‘content with our weakness, for the sake of Christ,’ we may one day find ourselves unleashed, our hearts emboldened, our words firm and free.”  Think of St. Kateri and her suffering from small pox and not being able to see well.  She is quoted to have said, “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus.”  Are you willing to give yourself over completely, weaknesses and all?

But Paul did not use excuses to limit his life. He knew vividly his own problems and difficulties – he even begged many times to be relieved of the ‘thorn in his flesh.’ But perhaps through his prayer he came to realize that none of his ‘work’ was about his weakness – but it was about trusting that God’s grace was sufficient for whatever was necessary. He learned to be content with weakness for the sake of Christ “in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” Like Paul, when we are weak, it is then that we are strong – in and with the Lord.  (John Kavanaugh, S.J., “The Word Encountered,” http://liturgy.slu.edu )

The Gospel —  Mark 6: 1-6

Do you find this true in your own life, when you return to your hometown or see friends and family from your past?  Where are you in this story?

Most scholars think that this passage has a ring of historicity. It is probably unlikely that the early church would have told stories about Jesus being rejected in his own hometown if it were not based on a real event. It was probably a very important story for them because they themselves often experienced rejection of their own when they tried to share ‘the Jesus story’ with their families and close acquaintances. And, of course, as Jesus will soon begin his journey to Jerusalem, this rejection will culminate in the horrible rejection of the cross. But even that horror will not end the truth and power of his life and word.  (R. Fuller, OSB, “Scripture In Depth,” http://liturgy.slu.edu )

In Jesus’ culture there was no expectation of ‘doing better than one’s parents.’ In fact honor required that a person stay in their inherited status and make no effort to improve on it. Any effort to ‘better oneself’ was seen as a threat to others. So Jesus aroused anxiety on this point alone. Then, craftsmen at this time – especially those who lived in small hamlets like Nazareth – had to leave home to find work. They had to leave their women and children at home without proper male protection. Such craftsmen were, thus, looked upon as ‘without shame.’ How could such a one have such power and wisdom? “And they took offense at him.”  (J. Pilch, “Historical Cultural Context”  http://liturgy.slu.edu )

From Jesus:  A Pilgrimage by Fr. J. Martin:

In consulting with 1st century archeologist Jonathan Reed, a Jewish village of that size at the time would not have had a synagogue.  There has been no evidence discovered yet.  People would have most likely gathered outside, like an open space in the village, or maybe the courtyard of a wealthy homeowner (115).  Picture Jesus in that setting.  It is likely that Jesus knew how a message of openness to the Gentiles would be received in his hometown.  Nonetheless he is fearless.  How?  Courage from grace, yes.  But he also had a freedom from any desire for approval from the people in Nazareth.   He needed only to be true to himself.  He loved the people of Nazareth, but he saw beyond that (125).  How often do we worry about what people think of us?  Does it keep us from moving forward?

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