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Breaking Open the Word

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time 
July 7, 2024

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We sometimes get so used to Jesus being present that we can grow indifferent, and thereby justify taking our faith into our own hands rather than relying on God. This week, our readings underscore how God can take those of us who have gotten a little too comfortable and remind us He is present. He is amazing.

Ezekiel 2:2-5
Psalm 123
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Mark 6:1-6

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Gospel Explained

The events of this week’s gospel are pretty incredible as they really reflect the skepticism of mankind. This gospel occurs after Jesus has healed a paralytic, a man with a withered hand, a person possessed by demons all his life, and Jesus had raised the daughter of Jarius. All of those had occurred and certainly the towns-people had to have heard about it. He returns to his hometown and He is roundly dismissed and mocked.

What we do not see in Mark’s account but we do see in the gospel of Luke is that Jesus entered the town, began to teach and read from Isaiah about the Messiah. As written in Luke, Jesus stated: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord...Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Words that just did not sit well with the towns-people.

We do know that St. Joseph very likely was not alive at this point. The towns-people refer to Jesus as the son of Mary. If Joseph had been alive, they would have referred to Jesus as the son of Joseph. The original text of this gospel was written in Greek. The Greek words for brother and sister can be, and often are, interchanged with cousin, niece, nephew, and step siblings. The only reason this became an issue is when considering the perpetual virginity of our Holy Mother, a dogma of our faith.

Jesus goes on to explain that a prophet is not welcome in his native land. This is reference to the many prophets of the Old Testament who received warnings and directions from God that were shared with the Hebrews but then also ignored by the Hebrews. The prophets were killed by the Israelites, their own people. Jesus is foretelling the rejection He will endure.

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Today's Theme

Jesus is the Messiah – Follow Him!

The reaction of the towns-people is interesting as it is not clear as to why they reacted as they did but it is clear they did not like what they heard. Was Jesus claiming to be the Messiah? Were they jealous? Nazareth was not thought of as a nice place to live, so did they think they would not be worthy to have the Messiah in their presence? Their reaction, though, is quite similar to the reaction we see around us. There are a lot of people who have heard of Jesus, but really just no interest.

Our first reading this week comes from the prophet Ezekiel, who came on the scene after King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jerusalem. Ezekiel was telling the Israelites that it was their actions, their lack of faith, their turning from God that caused the Babylonian exile. Ezekiel is instructed by God to instruct the Israelites to change their ways and believe in God so as to avoid the punishment they will bring upon themselves. And if the Israelites do not listen, well, God kind of tells them “Look, I tried to tell you. I tried to send you a prophet. You just would not listen.” A reaction very similar to the reaction Jesus received in Nazareth.

In the second reading from Corinthians, St. Paul is taking the position Jesus took during His return to Nazareth and even during His Passion. St. Paul, knowing that he is doing the right thing, is willing to undergo being treated poorly and even physically beaten in order to speak the words of God. The Truth is the Truth. Jesus was bringing the Truth to Nazareth, they did not want to listen, and He was humiliated for it. St. Paul was willing to undergo the same.

It is not all doom and gloom in our readings and gospel today because of Jesus Christ. The reason Jesus could not do miracles in His home town was because of the lack of faith. It was not because He did not want to do miracles but they would likely have been viewed as magic tricks. Jesus is looking for a change of our moral compass – just as Ezekiel did, and St. Paul. Incredible things can happen when we have faith.

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Theme in our Life Today

Jesus as Our Lord in Our Life Today

It can be hard to let go of the things of this world. Jesus is love, and truth, and good, and compassionate, and merciful. He will always take care of us no matter what comes our way. In those moments of joy, He will be smiling bigger than any of us. Thing is, it is also easy to see Jesus as not being safe.

See, the safe thing to do is to keep doing what we have always been doing. Doing what we think is best for our lives is usually the easier option. That is not what we are called to do in carrying forth the mission of Christ. We are called to turn over our entire life to Jesus…that is what makes a Saint a Saint. Read the works of the Saints – time after time, occasion after occasion, circumstance after circumstance, the Saints took the leap we are called to do.

Taking that leap is not a bad thing, just a scary thing. Looking at this week’s gospel, what would you have said to the towns-people? With the gift of knowing what we know now, that they did not know then, what would you tell them? Would you tell them to just believe? Why should they believe? Would you be comfortable saying anything? Here’s the deal – be uncomfortable. Ezekiel was. St. Paul was. The Apostles were.

Jesus is the Good News! He is all good! Let’s grab hold of that and share it with others! What is in your life that you need to let Jesus be your Lord, and let Him guide you? Then share that experience with others!

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Prepare for Sunday

1. Write an actual letter to Jesus and tell Him why you believe He is who He says He is. Go to the Adoration Chapel and write that letter in His presence.
2. Choose a ministry that you will ask SOMEONE ELSE to join.
3. Consider becoming an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion or Lector…and ask a couple of younger folks to be an Altar Server!

What a beautiful day! Go smile at God today!!

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