Sunday, July 4, 2021
First reading: 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.
Second reading: 2 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.
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.
In other words Fr. Bernard Espiritu, SVD (New Zealand)
I just finished watching the Grammy’s Motown Tribute Show. It featured songs to honor Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, to name a few of the greats. The program was interspersed with interviews with singers and songwriters like Smokey Robinson. Offstage the great artists and musicians who were interviewed just looked like any other ordinary persons. What made them different was what was within them. Thus, the common saying that one should not judge a book by its cover bears a lot of truth.
Jesus was one person who lived among the people of his time. Externally, he was just like any of them, and many saw him just that way. But his difference came out when one saw through his heart and mind. Besides, it is by the fruit one bears that one is truly known. And some perceived that he taught with authority because his words and deeds complemented and completed each other. And those same persons were witnesses to his miracles and even his divinity.
The prophet Ezekiel, in the first reading, presents to us human characteristics that shed light on why many of the people in Jesus’ time only saw him as just like any ordinary person. “They are bold of face, and stubborn of heart.” In another translation (NRSV), “bold of face” is referred to as imprudent—lacking discretion, wisdom, or good judgment. And the people were doubly erratic because they were also closed to any change—they were stubborn of heart. Pope Francis has expressed that humans have to be open to the mystery of each new day, inviting us to behold its wonders. He speaks of the God of surprises. Anyone who wants to truly grow in the friendship with the Lord must have a heart and mind that is welcoming, courageous, and forward-looking.
Friendship with the Lord happens when one opts to partner with God. The great St. Paul, who changed from being Saul, the persecutor, became a partner of God. Yet, he remained human with imperfections but not left alone. In the words of the second reading, “My [God’s] grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Indeed, “we are wonders, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.”