I say to you, arise!
Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time - B

Frank Enderle
Reproduced with Permission

The Gospel Reading today tells us how Jesus went back to visit His hometown with His disciples. He preached in the synagogue and the people of the town, surprised, asked each other, “Where did he get all of this? … Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary…? This grumbling about Jesus by the people in His own hometown confirms the experiences that many of us have gone through. Many of us know of people who have been successful in some enterprise and have been surprised and hurt by the negative reaction their success brings out in many people, including members of their own families. This, for the person who has gone through it, is difficult to go through. The inhabitants of Nazareth reacted in just that way when they hear Jesus. The Lord had failures and disappointments, just as we do but He did not let them get the better of Him. He continued teaching and performing miracles even though in Nazareth He could not perform any. Maybe a little hurt, He explained to His disciples, ““A prophet is not looked down on except in his native land, among his own kin and in his own house.”

Saint Mark and the other Evangelists did not try to cover up the occasional failures that Jesus had during His public life. When the Lord preached, He did so valiantly. He said what He had to say without worrying about whether those who heard him liked his preaching or not. Not everyone accepted His teaching. There were some who, even though they saw His works and His miracles, did not want to recognize His worth. That was the reason that the Lord could not perform any miracles in Nazareth. In spite of the poor welcome and the disappointment that He felt, He continued on to other towns, teaching and healing. This is exactly what the Church does. Following the example of Christ, the Church preaches, evangelizes and teaches. This is her prophetic mission and her most important task. It is also a most difficult mission. Even though society does not agree with what the Church teaches, even though people stop coming to her because she does not preach what they want to hear, she has to continue teaching the truth, courageously, as Christ did.

In the First Reading, we see that this was what happened to the prophet Ezekiel. He was called by God to preach to the people of Israel even though they had rebelled against Him. Ezekiel knew that this was a difficult task but he also knew that he had a mission to carry out: to communicate the word of God without changing it, in its entirety. And that is what he did, even though the people did not want to listen to him.

In our Second Reading we hear how Saint Paul tells the Christian community of Corinth that, he has to continue preaching and glorifying the Lord, in spite of the insults, the deprivation, and the persecution that he has suffered because of this. In his humility he says, “So that I will not be proud, a thorn has been placed in my flesh….” It is not certain exactly what Saint Paul was referring to when he said this. It could have been a sickness or it could have been the temptations of this world. What is certain is that he asked God for help. And God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is manifested in weakness.” The same weaknesses that Saint Paul had we also have at different times of our lives. The Lord knows we are weak and that many times we feel misunderstood, even by our family and friends, when we talk about our faith or about God. In spite of this, we must follow the example of Jesus, Ezekiel and Paul, who continued preaching even when people refused to listen to them.