5 July 2015: Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Ez 2: 2-5 Ps 123: 1-2, 2, 3-4 2 Cor 12: 7-10 Mk 6: 1-6

Prophecy, relationships, change, and acts of power

In Ordinary time, the Lectionary presents RCIA participants and all believing community members with stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. This week the readings invite us to think about our role as prophets.

The first reading describes Ezekiel’s call by God to be a prophet. In the Hebrew scriptures, Ezekiel is one of the three major prophets (along with Isaiah and Jeremiah). Ezekiel prophesied to the Jewish people during the Babylonian captivity (597-539BC). God’s spirit enters Ezekiel and God tells him that he will speak in God’s name. Whether the Jewish people accept or reject Ezekiel’s message, the people will know that a prophet has been among them.

In Mark’s gospel Jesus has just completed a series of teachings and “acts of power,” concluding with raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Now he returns to Nazareth, his home town (literally, his “father’s place.”) Although Jesus preaches powerfully in the synagogue (“many were astonished”), but they can’t get past his history with them–they know him as a craftsman, they know his mother and family. Their familiarity breeds contempt (“offense”). Feeling their disdain and dishonor, Jesus reminds them that a prophet is always rejected by the ones who know the prophet best–friends and family. Jesus is amazed by their unbelief. Without their cooperating faith, Jesus’ ministry of preaching and healing is ineffective. Acts of power require a relationship. When no relationship exists, there can be no metanoia (“change of heart”) or healing.

In the second reading Paul writes “to the ekklesia being in Corinth.” Scripture scholars believe that 2 Corinthians is a compilation of two to five letters that Paul wrote sometime in the mid to late 50s. In today’s reading Paul opens his letter with a few lines about being an apostle. To balance Paul’s special gifts (“the excess of revelations”) God has given him, Paul says that God has also given him a physical problem (“a thorn in the flesh”) to keep him from becoming proud. Paul transforms his physical aliment into a teaching moment (“I will boast of my weakness”) so that the Corinthians can see Christ’s power in Paul. He accepts his limitations for Christ (“when I am weak, I am most powerful”).

Today’s readings ask RCIA participants and the believing community to consider our role as prophets. Ezekiel and Jesus speak and preach God’s word; Paul lets his actions-how he deals with his unnamed physical infirmity–witness to God’s message. God calls us as members of the believing community to witness our faith to each other and to the world. We prophecy in words sometimes, but mostly in deeds–how we live our daily lives–to bring ourselves and others into relationship with God. We know that prophetic witnesses risk rejection by strangers and by loved ones. As the gospel shows, unless we are in relationship with God, no metanoia or healing is possible. Do we think we know God so well that we can’t hear God’s offer of relationship? Do we find in our relationship with God the courage to live a life of prophecy and witness? Are we willing to boast of our weaknesses so God’s mighty acts of power can happen?

—Terence Sherlock

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