The three Scripture Readings from the Liturgy of the Word for this Sunday
Reading 1 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
- 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.
- 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.
Reading 22 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.
AlleluiaCF. LUKE 4:18
- Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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.
THOSE THAT SPEAK FOR GOD: 14th SUNDAY B
By Fr Brian Gleeson CP
When people from ordinary backgrounds become celebrities, e.g. Ricky Ponting, the former Australian Cricket Captain, and the pop idols Guy Sebastian and Missy Higgins, journalists and television crews often seek out the family and neighbours of the new star to find out what they think of their local boy or girl made good. Mixed impressions and reactions are given. Some show their surprise, some their shock, some their delight, some their pride. But others show their disbelief or jealousy. While some locals claim they saw it all coming, others refuse to admit that anything out of the ordinary has happened. They urge caution, and claim that all the hype and hoopla will soon fizzle out. It’s just too true: ‘Familiarity breeds contempt.’
In our Gospel today Jesus comes back to his home town of Nazareth. This is not a social visit. Like the other towns in Galilee, Nazareth has to hear the Good News that with Jesus God has stepped into this world and begun to rule over everything and everyone as their King. When Jesus highlights this in the local synagogue, his listeners are amazed. They wonder about the wise things he has said, about where he got his ideas, and about how on earth he has been curing so many sick and handicapped persons. But despite their favourable impressions of him at first, they let their prejudices, their prejudgments, take over. They decide that all along Jesus has been fooling them into thinking he’s someone special. ‘Just who does he think he is?’ they sneer, ‘Local boy made good? No way!’
They try to cut him down to size, their own size. They sniff: ‘Once a carpenter always a carpenter! Don’t we all know his mother, his sisters and his brothers? There’s nothing special about them. He’s just got too big for his boots!’ Mark summarises their negative reactions in six words: ‘And they would not accept him.’ For them his sheer ordinariness as their local tradesman cancels out their first impressions of his new and special wisdom and of the reports reaching them of his extraordinary deeds.
How does Jesus react to these locals and their prejudices against him? In the words of the story-teller, he is ‘amazed at their lack of faith’. He tells them: ‘A prophet [i.e. one who speaks for God] is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house.’ Mark has told us already that even relatives of Jesus were convinced he was out of his mind (3:21). Now their rejection seems complete.
Jesus’ experience of rejection in Nazareth makes him powerless to work any miracle among his own people. The negative way they react to him and their lack of trust actually limits his ability. So after curing ‘a few sick people’, he moves elsewhere, and it seems, sad to say, that he never sets foot in Nazareth again.
In the 1960s there was a popular song called ‘The Sounds of Silence’. One remarkable line says: ‘The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.‘ The messages of prophets are two-way communication. They state what God wants to tell people for their good. But rejection or resistance to the message tells God what the people think of both the message and the messenger.
I think you will probably agree that it’s an extremely painful thing to try to tell someone what they need to hear for their own good only to be told: ‘Back off, butt out!’ Parents know that pain, when their children tell them ‘What would you know? You’re last century, out of date, a has-been, a loser!’, or something else just as rude and insulting. Teachers know the pain of it when their pupils just scoff or giggle at the lesson they’ve so carefully prepared and presented. Police know the pain of resistance and opposition when they try to restore order in the midst of mob madness or violence, and for their trouble are spat at and called ‘pigs’ or worse by drunken revellers.
Day by day you and I face situations in which God is calling us to stop, look and listen, in order take in and accept some message for our good, a message being delivered to us by another person in our lives, someone who is on our side, someone who is also a real prophet, a spokesperson for God, a godsend.
So in our prayer together today let us ask God both for ourselves and one another that we might always be open to hearing and heeding the Word of God, in whatever way God speaks to us, and through whatever person or persons God sends us as his messengers, his agents, his angels. firstname.lastname@example.org
A realhomilies by Fr.Kevin Walsh
Many years ago; way back in the 1980’s, it seems almost like Old Testament times, as I think back, I remember attending a ‘live in weekend’ to undergo a Myers-Briggs Programme, which would enable myself to understand my personality better. In those days, and back in the 70’s, there were a number of these kinds of programmes available, a couple of them I thought somewhat strange, and deeply introspective, to the point where the only person that mattered in life was me! Tempted as I am to share lots with you on those topics, I must stick to God’s Word……thank God! However, there is a point that I would like to make about the ‘live in weekend’ with the Myers-Briggs Programme which does have a link with today’s Gospel.
We started the Programme after Dinner on the Friday night, and it would be completed by 3.00PM on Sunday. I was looking forward to Sunday afternoon before we even started! During the course of the Programme we were introduced to a method to recognise personality types. As we discovered the various elements which make up these personality types they were gathered, and fitted under certain headings, and given a letter from the alphabet….like a C or a B or an N, to capture the specific personality type. We were also told by the Presenters not to ever tell someone what we thought was their personality type; it was more a process about self-discovery. However, when you are with a group of people that you do know, to some extent, it is hard not to think about their personality type: is Fr an X or Br a Y, or Sr a D? Well on Sunday morning I was down to the Breakfast Room early for once, hoping that there would not be too many people around, so that I could duck off, and go for a nice walk along the Beach! There were three other people reading the Sunday papers at the table, so simple pleasantries were exchanged by all, but it was not the time for a deep and meaningful conversation. As I was opening the fridge door to get some Milk, a voice said to me, so the whole world could hear…..”Walshie, I think that you are an N! (Meaning my type of personality) All three heads in that Breakfast room were looking at me! Being a person who sometimes does not suffer fools gladly, I slowly turned around to get a little bit of theatre at work, and with an equally strong voice for the world to hear, I then said,” the only person in this world who is entitled to put me in a box, will be the Undertaker at the Funeral Directors….”……..Silence descended over the Breakfast room, and settled like a fine mist! I hate being put in a Box or categorised by people, especially by people in authority! But so often, we do put people in Boxes, saying terrible untrue things about them, which in a sense cripples any possibilities for them to change, especially within the sight of the one who wrongfully makes the claim. Boxes, categories, and assumptions about others, belittling them publically, which in effect, wraps the chains of stillness around them, so that they don’t change, and then WE the ones putting others in a Box, or category, will be the ones who are safe!
In today’s Gospel, we see something very much like what I have been talking about! Jesus, and his missionary group go to Our Lord’s home town, Nazareth!……mostly there is always a good feeling when you go back home after one has been away for a while. That is, providing nothing really disastrous happened in one’s home town, to dislike the place.
On the Sabbath, Jesus goes into the local Synagogue and begins to teach! The Gospel says that the community were astonished when they heard him…..I think that we would all be like that in our first response, especially if we had known Jesus growing up in the Village. Now, the covering question on their minds was:,” Where did the man get all this wisdom and ability for miracles etc?” Let’s not forget that the central question that runs through the first Gospel like a silver thread is: “who is Jesus”? So we see a little complication growing within Our Lord’s hearers in his home town……but NOT all of them! …….Hence, the majority of the local community put Jesus in a Box!!!!!!! ‘We know his family, we know all about him etc’ Did they???????? In writing a line under His name, it caused the locals to be ’Faith-blind’ and ‘not see’ the saving hand of God at work, in Jesus!
It seemed that the Mission to Nazareth was almost a failure! The failure was not because of Jesus; the failure was within the people who believed that they had Our Lord’s number, and nothing extraordinary could come from a person like a local carpenter, who had spent all his life among them. How sad is that? But, when we look at this fairly and squarely, we can say with a great deal of surety, “the faces have changed, but the message remains the same!” All of us are prone to falling into the same trap of unbelief! Are we?
The first reading in the Liturgy of the Word today, throws some light on what makes a Prophet, a Prophet? Today we hear from Ezekiel…….remember how I always say that we must be curious when deep sea diving into the Scriptures? So, let’s not take this Prophet’s name for granted: What does it mean? According to the scholars, it means….”May EL (God) strengthen”. When did he live, and were there any outstanding problems at that time? It seems that he lived around 590-970 BC, and he was in Babylonia…present day Iraq! He, and hundreds of other people from the Promised land had been deported, and driven into Exile…….Remember years ago, I think in the 1980’s there was a popular song…..’ By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept as we remembered Zion’
Well that’s where Ezekiel was at this time. Let’s remember that the Prophet’s name is important because it has a lot to do with the mission entrusted to him by God. He needed all the strength he could get from God, so that the mission could be completed! The Mission was a really hard one; go and tell his own people that they were rebels before God. That they were obstinate and defiant, and that they needed to change, and return to the Covenant, which the Lord God had initiated with them, through Moses of old!…..well that is not good news, is it? So, linking this up to Jesus in the Gospel, the Father sent Jesus also to obstinate people in Israel, but particularly so in His home town of Nazareth, and he was rejected! Although he cured a few sick people who had the eyes of faith to see who Jesus was!
Ezekiel, says in the first sentence that ‘the Spirit came into me, and made me stand up, and I heard the Lord speaking to me’ It is very important for us to take that sentence slowly, and understand it’s meaning then, and it’s meaning for us now!
Ezekiel, obviously knew some of the major problems within his people. But to take it on oneself and just say, “Well I’m off now, and I am going to tell my people the error of their ways”. No one would really do that, unless they were going to get a fat pay packet! So here we see the Spirit of the Lord entering him, and opening his heart to see that God’s Word; together with his own faith, the Spirit enabled a ‘harmony’ within Ezekiel, which gave him, the ‘get up and go.’ Ezekiel stood up, and listened to His instructions, and then went to God’s people in Exile, to proclaim the Word to them.. Being true to the meaning of his name, Ezekiel went forth, strengthened by the Lord God, and proclaimed God’s Word to them! Ezekiel was a true Biblical Prophet! We must be careful of our understanding of Biblical Prophets….it’s not about telling the future; it’s about saying it as it is, to God’s people, so that they might change, and return faithfully to the Lord God.
The age of the Prophets is not over; there have always been Prophets, and there will always be Prophets. One notable Prophet at the moment is Pope Francis!
He is very much in the mould of Biblical Prophets. Right from the time of his election, and then saying ‘Good evening’ to the people in St. Peter’s Square, and asking for them to pray for him….he has seemed to be another Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. And as we see Pope Francis confronting the issues right now in 2015, he bears Ezekiel’s name…..May God strengthen! And we can all see that our Pope needs plenty of God’s strength in order to address some of the defiance, arrogance, obstinateness, ego centric, clerics and people, within the Church. The Pope’s way of life speaks volumes about the living Gospel alive in him. Pope Francis calls for the reverse of power which can corrupt, in order to become again the living editions of defenceless power, as the Lord’s foot washers.
We are all called to be the Lord’s Prophets! Yes, every one of us! And already we know many people who ARE the Lord’s Prophets……The quiet achievers in our Parish communities, the ones who feel compelled to stand up and be a voice for the voiceless! The quiet achievers who are compelled by a saturation of God’s love to speak out, bad news for many of the hearers, so that a CHANGE may take place in them, and that they return to the sheepfold, and be Christ to each other.
In the Baptism Ritual, and then confirmed by the person themselves at Confirmation; it was then, that we received our calling to be Prophetic! When the child or adult is anointed with the Oil of Catechumens, this prayer is said:
We anoint you with the oil of salvation,
In the name of Christ our Savour;
May he strengthen you
With his power.
(May you be like Ezekiel)
Then after the child or adult has been baptised, we anoint them with the Oil of Chrism, and the accompanying Prayer is prayed…..
God the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ as freed you from Sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.
To sum up: – Let’s beware of the traps of putting people in categories or putting labels on them….this could lead to a spiritual blindness. Grant O Lord that we may have the eyes to see you saving hand at work in your people. A Prophet is not heard in their own country….that happened to Ezekiel and Jesus and to many Prophets; it can happen to us. May we be good listeners, O Lord.
Grant to us O Lord, the courage required in us, so that we may be open to your strength, as manifested through your Holy Spirit as a free gift. May we be inspired from those men and women who speak your Word, in season and out of season. May we be open to all the possibilities that can happen through your grace within your people, so that we may listen to them with open hearts, acclaim them with true love and support them through our prayer. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen