Sunday: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Date: July 5, 2015. Year: B The readings: [Eze. 2:3-5; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Mk. 6:1-6] The message: Obedience, servitude and humility. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry Total words: 1797
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My brothers and sisters, "grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to set us free from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father to whom be the glory forever and ever." [Gal. 1:3-5]
Today's three readings from the Holy Scriptures echo the Christian virtues of obedience, servitude and humility on the part of the Lord Jesus, the prophet Ezekiel and St. Paul. All three, subjected to a greater authority, submitted themselves to the Divine Will of the Lord God. [Lk. 9:1; 20:2-8]
During the First Reading from the Book of Ezekiel, [Eze. 2:2-5] we heard that the Spirit entered into Ezekiel, stood him on his feet and commissioned him to go to the people of Israel and to preach to them. During his commission, Ezekiel was warned that there was a possibility that the people would reject the message that he was delivering from God. But, whether they hear or refuse to hear, they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.
Humbly obeying, biblical history tells us that Ezekiel did serve the Lord God by going to the people, preached to them, and the Word of God was rejected by many.
When we consider the days of Ezekiel, they remind us of our own calling. As Catholics who have been baptized and confirmed, we who have received the seal of the Holy Spirit have been called to become slaves of the Lord Jesus, we have been sent forward to obey and serve in all humility. [Rom. 6:15-23](C.C.C. 1294-6) As Ezekiel was called to preach, whether they hear or not, we too have been sent to testify regarding the Word of God to our children, our spouse, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our relatives, our friends, our co-workers and all those with who we come in contact. Whether they hear or not is not important. What is important is that God is provided with the opportunity to manifest Himself through us so that when the day of judgment comes, those who appear before Him will not be able to say, "Lord, you never spoke to me!" [Mt. 25:34-46]
If we see someone sin and we remain silent to their sin, it means that we are giving our seal of approval to their sin. As such, we are just as guilty as the one who sins and we can be assured that the Lord God will remind us on judgment day that we have failed as true Catholics to obey His commandments and to serve Him in all humility.
My brothers and sisters, nothing comes free. There is a price for us to pay with the gift of the new creation that we received during the Sacrament of Baptism and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we received during the Sacrament of Confirmation. While God is good and generous, giving to us freely, He expects us to give something to Him in return. Our gift to God is our Christian behaviour, our words and our actions, as true Catholics who shine in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Those who walk by the Spirit of Christ are the children of God. [1 Jn. 5:2] Those who refuse to walk by the Spirit of Christ, they are not the children of God. [1 Jn. 3:10]
During today's Reading from the Second Letter to the Corinthians, we heard how serving God in obedience can get to our heads. As such, the sin of pride sets in.
As we mature in Christ, by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, we gain greater understanding and knowledge of the spiritual mysteries of Christ and His mystical Body. During sanctification, the Holy Spirit is provided with the opportunity to move more freely through us. At this stage of spiritual growth, we no longer need milk, the basic teachings of christianity. [Heb. 5:11-3] Rather, we can now eat solid food, this meaning that we qualify to teach to others what we have learned. [Heb. 5:14]
While we qualify to teach, be it as a priest, a brother, a sister or a catechist, we are called to always remain humble in our obedience and servitude to the Lord Jesus. We are called to always remember that if our spiritual work shines in inspirations because we have the gift of teaching, it is because IT IS a gift of teaching. It is NOT because of anything that we can or have achieved on our own. All praise and glory should always be given to the Lord God for His spiritual work that is manifested through us as humble servants.
During the same reading, we heard that St. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment him, to keep him from being too elated. We are not going to speculate as to what was the thorn because it is not revealed in the Holy Bible. The lesson that is important to learn from this is that sometimes the Lord will allow Satan to torment us with a human weakness in order to keep us humble. As long as we have a weakness, it will discourage us from judging others who have a weakness of their own. Our hearts will tell us that we too are weak in the human nature and we should refrain from judging others.
Therefore, it can be said that through a thorn in the flesh, a human weakness, the grace of God is at work and sufficient for us to remain humble in His eyes. Through that weakness, by remaining humble, one shines in Christlikeness. Is this not sufficient reason to be content with a human weakness just as one would be content with insults, hardships, persecution and calamities for the sake of Christ? St. Paul affirms that it is so!
During today's Reading from the Gospel of Mark, we heard how the Lord Jesus served God the Father in obedience and humility. Jesus came on earth to do the Divine Will of His Father and obeyed to the end. "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross." [Phil. 2:8] He did not come as a King with a myriad of angels, but rather as a humble servant in human flesh. [Jn. 1:14; 1 Pet. 3:18]
Jesus went to His hometown and taught in the synagogues. As we heard, few believed in Him because they personally knew Him as the Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, and as the cousin of James, Joses, Judas and Simon. Because of their lack of faith, the grace of God could not manifest itself through Jesus. Very few were healed.
How often during His ministry did Jesus say, "If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father." [Jn. 10:37-8]
Surely, the people from the hometown of Jesus had heard of the great miracles He was performing throughout the country. Surely, it must have been obvious that the grace of God was at work through Him. If only they would have believed that God the Father was manifesting Himself through Jesus, would that not have been sufficient faith for numerous cures? But no, the unbelief of the people was limited to their worldly perception of the human nature of Jesus. Refusing to believe in the Son of God, the grace of God did not manifest itself upon them through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Today, there are similar circumstances in many parishes throughout the world. When in need of a healing through the anointing of the holy oils, many Catholics search for a charismatic priest who is alleged to perform miracles. During this time, they have no faith in the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit that is manifested through their own local priest who has the authority from Jesus to administer the Sacrament of the Sick in the Church. Their vision is limited to the physical appearance of the priest, someone they know. As Jesus was rejected, today, many priests are rejected.
Has the world forgotten that when any priest administers the Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church, he is the instrument of the Lord Jesus? While the priest is visible at the ceremony of Baptism, during the Consecration of the bread and wine or during the Sacrament of Confession, Jesus is also present, He being the One who is administering the Sacraments. As the Father manifested His power through Jesus during the healing of the sick, it is Jesus who is manifesting Himself through the priest of the Catholic Church during the anointing of the sick. If one has no faith in a priest for whatever reason, he should at least have faith in the power and glory of God that is manifested through the Sacraments. Would that not be sufficient faith to obtain the healing that they seek?
My brothers and sisters, as Jesus obeyed and served the Father in humility, the priests, the brothers, the sisters, all those who have consecrated their lives to God, are also called to obey and serve the Lord in humility. As the power of the Spirit of the Father was manifested through Jesus Christ, so it is in the Holy Catholic Church, be it through the priest who is administering the Sacraments, a Christian Brother who is teaching in a classroom or a religious sister who is administering a hospital.
Todays's readings call us to awaken our hearts so we may see the Divine truth beyond the human appearance of those we know. Obeying and serving the Lord as slaves indebted to Him for our salvation, we should humbly believe in the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit that is manifested through our brothers and sisters in the Most Holy Name of Jesus. When we will have attained that elevation of spiritual knowledge and understanding, our faith will bring us to the realization that God is manifesting Himself all around us, in ways that we have never seen before.
My brothers and sisters, may the abounding grace and peace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be with you this week as you reflect on the spiritual wealth that is found in today's readings.
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[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
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"A spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard one speaking to me; 'Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day.
The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God.' Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.'" [Eze. 2:2-5]
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"Brothers and sisters: Considering the exceptional character of the revelations, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness,'
So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong." [2 Cor. 12:7-10]
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"Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, 'Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?' And they took offence at him.
Then Jesus said to them, 'A Prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown, and among his own kin, and in his own house.
And Jesus could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And Jesus was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching." [Mk. 6:1-6]
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