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Friday, 3 July 2015

Reflection/Homily: Fourteenth (14th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (July 5 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Fourteenth (14th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (July 5 2015)
Theme: Becoming Over Familiar with Jesus

A priest-friend once shared with me an experience he had on a visit to his priest-friend’s native home. According to him, when he was about to leave, the mother of his priest-friend approached him requesting him to bless some water for her. He asked the woman why she didn’t ask her priest-son who had been at home for a week to bless the water and she quickly retorted, “Fr leave that one”. This kind of story makes one begin to wonder if she was over familiar with the priesthood of her son, or considered her son to be an unholy priest or was simply suffering from lack of faith. I believe this kind of disposition is not unique to her but is generally seen in most places. Some ministers experience this type of neglect and treatment. In the gospel reading (Mk. 6:1-6), it was also this kind of neglect and treatment that Jesus received in his home town Nazareth. He went about doing good elsewhere but when he returned to his home town that his people might have a share of his good works, he was received with over-familiarity, treated with contempt and listened to with unbelief despite the wisdom that came from him. 

Today, God invites us to re-evaluate our relationship with Him and know if we claim to be over familiar with Him. He equally consoles those messengers who have received insults and neglects from their people because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The letter to the Hebrews reminds us that, God’s messengers have been chosen from among men. That is to say, they do not come from heaven but from a human family and society. These messengers who are called to work for their people still experience today, the kind of neglect and treatment Jesus received at Nazareth.  They also suffer all kinds of tribulations, persecutions and physical assaults for the sake of the Gospel they preach. For such suffering messengers, the first reading (Ezekiel 2:2-5) reminds you today that God has sent you to the people you are working for. He knew how defiant and obstinate they are before He sent you. So do not be worried or afraid when they attack or oppose you and receive your word with unbelief, even Christ and his disciples experienced such. It is one of the crosses of discipleship. Go on to do your work whether they listen to you or not “but know that they shall know there is a prophet among them”. 

However, it is also possible that a messenger could lose faith in himself and perhaps in the gospel and become over familiar with his work that he does it not with devotion but as a routine. This could be caused by depression when one begins to count on one’s weaknesses and failures or see oneself as unfit for the job. St. Paul in the second reading (2 Cor 12:17-10) experienced this kind of depression and prayed to God for help. Instead, God told him that His grace was sufficient for him. God has chosen all of us as his messengers. He entrusts us with different responsibilities at different moments. Do not lose faith in God or become over familiar with the things that concern Him.

Beloved friends, the message for you today is to build a strong faith in God, a faith that is not based on the righteousness of your minister. God can talk to you through a worthy or an unworthy person, through your priests, pastors, relatives, friends, customers, even enemies, etc. We ought to listen to Him through such persons despite our relationship with them. What matters most is the true content of the message and not the messenger. Even if you consider the person unworthy of carrying the message, it does not make the message unworthy neither does it invalidates the sacraments he celebrates. In conclusion, do not only admire or appreciate the theological or scriptural foundations of a homily, or the priest’s manner of presentation or his sacred eloquence and oratory, but also believe in the message and try to live it out. So many people go to Church, get amazed and clap at the end of the homily but neither believe in it or carry them home. Some lose attention or even sleep if it is their priest-friend preaching or a priest they have known intimately. Remember, those who believed in the Gospel Christ preached went home with their problems solved. God loves you.

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