July 4, 2021 — Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
EZ 2:2-5; PS 123:1-2, 2, 3-4; 2 COR 12:7-10; MK 6:1-6
Our readings today portray three figures that experienced challenges — Ezekiel, St. Paul and Jesus. It is a reminder for us that, even in our weakest and toughest moments, God has a plan.
Our first figure, the prophet Ezekiel, reminds us of the challenges we encounter in our day-to-day lives. He is sent to the Israelites who are in need of truth as they are rebels who have rebelled against God. Essentially, he is sent on a challenging mission to encounter tough people.
Sometimes within our own mission fields, we are faced with challenges. It might be finishing a rough week at work, parenting a rebellious child, sharing your faith with reluctant family members, or being extremely kind to the rude cashier. In the face of the challenge, we oftentimes feel like we have been sent to the toughest of tough places. We ask ourselves, “Will I make it out?”
God prepares Ezekiel for this mission by essentially telling Ezekiel to remain close to Him as the Lord says, “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.”
We might feel like we have been thrown into these challenges completely unprepared. Yet, the reality is, if we face the challenge with God, we will make it out and we will be a witness to our faith in the process.
Our second figure, St. Paul, reminds us of the crosses that the Lord presents to us throughout life. St. Paul describes a “thorn” that had been given to him. He believed this thorn to be the thing that kept him grounded as he said, “to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.”
At first, he asked the Lord to remove this cross, but the Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Through this explanation, St. Paul resolved to believe, “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
We all bear crosses in this life, whether they seem to be little thorns or sharp daggers. The easiest thing to do, as St. Paul did, is to pray for the cross to be taken. It would be great if all of our struggles just magically faded away! But listen to the Lord’s words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”
Stop and reflect on your cross. Instead of wishing it to go away, look at it as an opportunity to grow and to allow God to work in your life. God permitted this cross in your life for a reason. Do not let the opportunity for Christ to work on your heart pass you by.
Our last figure is Jesus Himself. He reminds us of the times that we are not accepted by others in this life. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the sabbath and those who heard Him were taken back by His teaching ability. They questioned where He received His knowledge and power, especially if He was raised from a carpenter.
It says, “they took offense at him… He was amazed at their lack of faith.”
As Christian stewards, we are not always accepted. It might be because of what we believe in, the principles we stand for, how we spend our time and money, what we choose to participate in or not, or even how we raise our families. And sometimes our toughest critics are those we are closest to, which can leave us in amazement.
Jesus was supposed to be rejected so that He could suffer, die and rise for us. It was all part of God’s plan. So too, is our rejection. It is all part of God’s plan. Maybe it is to strengthen us, to grow our own faith, to be a witness to someone else or to just get a glimpse of how Christ was rejected.
Regardless of the reason, let us pray for the strength to not shy away in rejection and to not become like those who rejected Christ. Rather, let us cling to Christ in that moment and let us remember that God has a plan.
Today, as we hear about these three figures in the Scriptures, let us reflect on our lives. Recall that God loves us more than we could ever imagine. There is not a moment that goes by that He does not have us in mind. He has a specific plan for our lives. Therefore, may we encounter life’s challenges, our weaknesses and moments of feeling unwanted with confidence in Christ.