Catholic homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: RELIGION IS WHAT WE DO WHEN THE SERMON IS OVER!
By: Fr Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday July 4 2021
(EZ. 2:2-5; 2COR. 12:7-10: MARK 6:1-6)
In the gospel text of today, Saint Mark takes us back to the challenge of rejection. We should remember that Ezekiel told us that it does not matter if a prophet is recognized or not. What matters is that the prophet speaks the word of God. Today’s Gospel points out that we can reject a true prophet simply because we don’t believe that God acts in the ordinary events of our lives and in seemingly ordinary people.
In the cultural context of Jesus, it is a vulgar ridicule and offence. In that culture, as it is in many cultures like mine in Nigeria (Igbo) even today, someone is referred to as the son or a daughter of the father. Simon bar Jonah, for instance. But the people of his home town called Jesus, the son of his mother, please, excuse my expression, in other words: This bastard, who does not even know who his father is, where did he get all this from? What does that sound like! In fact, it was so awful that by the time Luke wrote his version of the story later, he would make it sound more polite: He reports, “They said, ‘This is Joseph’s son, surely?”
However, it is funny that even in this extreme offensive language there is a possible evidence for the mystery of incarnation. Humanly speaking, Jesus’ origin was not normal. Similar expressions are there in other Gospels. The leaders of the Jews in their conversation with the blind man who was cured by Jesus, they say, “we know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we don’t know where he comes from.” And the blind man points out to the irony in their statement as he says, “That is just what is so amazing! You don’t know where he comes from and he has opened my eyes! (Jn 9:29-30). That is why, Matthew concluding the genealogy of Jesus, would say, “and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ” (Mt 1:16). This implied-knowledge could lead someone to faith in Jesus. But as for the people of Jesus’ home town, it leads them to rejection.
There is a mission for us in our decaying and rebellious generation, in our families, in our communities, and in our world at large. There is much rebellion in our time against God, against divine institutions, and against the fabrics of our moral and cultural heritage. So, God speaks to us today as he spoke to Ezekiel in our first reading: “Son of man, I am sending you… to the rebels who have turned against me.” We too could go through similar experience of God in Jesus. We too see and hear many signs but our faith might still be weak.
Are we able to see the presence of God in others? Are we able to recognize that God speaks through others? Do we see and acknowledge the prophets of our own time? Today’s readings call us to open our hearts, our minds and our whole being to the presence of God in others.
My dear, if you have not gotten your own “trade mark” on behalf of the gospel you have not started. You are still in your comfort zone. Come out boldly and receive it like Ezekiel, Paul, and Christ, for the good of your generation. We must not be afraid to take up our ministries in spite of these burdens. We have to bear them patiently so that good might triumph over evil and, truth over lie and, peace over war. The truth is that, until every rebellion against the Lord is crushed, our world will not be safe.
When we meet with rejection we may be tempted to say: ’that is it. I’m finished’. We may decide not to help or care anymore. It’s too painful. Jesus didn’t react like that. He didn’t become embittered. He did what little he could in Nazareth – he cured some sick people. Then we are told that he was amazed at their lack of faith. So, he decided to take his light and his gifts elsewhere
My brothers and sisters, Religion is not listening to a prophet but what we do when the sermon is over.
By Fr Augustine Ikechukwu Opara