Homily Fourteenth Sunday Year B Lack of faith

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Homily Fourteenth Sunday Year B

Reading 1: What is the role of a prophet? A prophet is a spokesperson for God, saying to others what God puts on his mind and heart. Whether the people accept it or not, the prophet is to be faithful to what God told him to do and say. Once he speaks the message, he is finished. The people must discern whether it is of God or not. If it is, they have to choose to act on it or not.

What was the message Ezekiel was given? It was a message calling the rebellious house of Israel to repentance and conversion. Unfortunately, they did not listen. 
God has spoken his word to us and continues to speak that word whether we receive it or not. No one can say, in truth, I didn’t know God’s word. They can say I didn’t believe your word or accept it or live by it. God told Ezekiel. “Whether they heed or resist, they shall know that a prophet has been among them.”

Jesus, in John’s Gospel, relayed God’s judgement upon such rejection. “I will not condemn you but my word will be your judge.” How openly do we receive God’s word and how do we respond to his word?

Reading 2: Paul, too, was a prophet/evangelizer for the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit. He was blessed with visions and revelations, and experiences which were of intimate union with God. But to keep him humble and obedient to God, he also experienced some form of inner struggle or physical ailment. We don’t know what this so-called “thorn” in his side was.  Whatever it was, it impacted Paul so much he pleaded with God to remove it.

God could have done so, but, for Paul’s sake, chose not to for a greater purpose. In his personal struggle, Paul was challenged to depend more on the grace and strength of God.  For in our weakness, the power of God is made perfect in us.

Each of us has our own thorn in our side, areas of wounds, brokenness and scars.  Like Paul, they remind us of our need for God. They are not to prevent or distract me from the mission God has given me. God can and will work through me in spite of my imperfections and limitations.

With Paul, we should say: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Gospel: Like Ezekiel and Paul, Jesus was sent as a prophet to the house of Israel. Like Ezekiel and Paul, Jesus’s message was a call to repentance and conversion; a message to change their attitudes.  Like Ezekiel and Paul, Jesus was rejected by his own people, especially the religious leaders. Was this the thorn in his side?

But for his own townspeople and extended family to reject Jesus was doubly painful. He had spent some time ministering, preaching, teaching and healing in the surrounding areas in Galilee. His reputation had reached Nazareth.

He maybe came back home to visit Mary and to rest. He goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Because he has been teaching in other areas, they asked him to interpret the scriptures that had just been read.  The people were astonished. Why? Because he taught with authority and not like the scribes and Rabbis.

This astonishment soon turned to question, doubt and rejection.  They could not believe that Jesus was of God. They knew him growing up in the village. They knew his family. They had pre-judged him and boxed him in, refusing to see beyond their harden hearts.

What pained Jesus the most was their lack of faith.  He wanted to provide the same ministry to them that he had been providing to others. Yet their refusal prevented this. Even when he healed a few people, their hearts did not change. That is why Jesus said: “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

Sometimes we tend to box God in, preventing him with the lack of faith from working in our lives.  The people of Nazareth, like their ancestors would not receive the word of God or accept what Jesus was saying or doing as the word and action of God.

Is the same thing true in our lives? Have we settled in our own comfort zone in relationship to God? Is there an active faith in the person of Jesus or do we have a static faith in some teachings? Is there an expectancy that God will speak to us today? Is there an expectancy or openness that God’s power will be evidenced today?  Hear the word of God. Be open to the word of God. Act on the word of God.

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