SERMON/HOMILY FOR 14TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME – YEAR B




SERMON/HOMILY FOR 14TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME – YEAR B

HOMILY THEME: GOD’S STRENGTH SHINES FORTH IN OUR WEAKNESSES 

 Friar Tochukwu Okonkwo, OFM Cap.

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

 The first reading (Ezek. 2:2-5) is set when Nebuchadnezzar forced Jerusalem into Babylon exile between 598-587 BC. It describes Ezekiel’s commissioning – a divine call to speak on God’s behalf about God’s constant involvement in Israel’s life. In their stubbornness of heart, God gave Israel up to captivity.

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 The Psalmist (Ps 123:1-4) makes a cry of appeal, beckoning on God. He says that the hope of Israel is in the Lord. It is a Psalm of lamentation that invokes God’s assistance so to speak.

 In the Gospel (Mk 6:1-6), Jesus is rejected by his own land. Why is this so? Scholars posit some reasons. Why some say it is because he may have gone mad since his relatives had come earlier to pick him up believing he was beside himself (Mk 3:21) or perhaps they thought he was possessed by a demon just as the Pharisees and Scribes held (Mk 12:24). However, it seems more probable that the reason for his rejection was more of socio-economic for they argued among themselves if he were not the carpenter’s son, and to the point of mentioning his family members (Mark 6:3 and Mt. 13:55). They were too conversant with his family.

 The second reading (2 Cor. 12:7-10) is a life paradox: how to find strength in weakness. Suffering could be seen from various lights. The Christian view of suffering has the dimension of the cross of Christ which sanctifies and redeems.

 After the fall of humanity, God offered us “divine grace.” If we become proud, we will not give room for divine grace. St Paul is presented to us as a model who, though he acknowledged his weaknesses, learnt humility through them, and also learnt to overlook them and focus more on the grace of God.
 One tool the devil deals us a mortal blow with is fear. Once we begin to fear then we begin to trust God’s grace the less. That will be a trick for our undoing our victory over our human weakness begins when we acknowledge them, but trust in God the more.

 Suffering can be seen in various lights – it can humble us, unsettles us to long for paradise – a place of rest and to do whatever it takes to enter it.
 But God does not often rescue us from all the sufferings we endure. He leaves us with ‘sweet’ and necessary crosses to well up for our salvation. We could therefore learn to offer up our sufferings to him. We could earn to offer up our sufferings in form of disappointments, sicknesses, joys, sorrows, testimonies, insults from people, losses (maybe of loved ones or fortunes), and everything to God. In doing this, we are to unite them with his passion on the cross for the salvation of our souls and those of the whole world. There is no particular method for this offering but a conscious movement of the will.
 A priest once said that it is when we rely on him in our weaknesses that we become strong. It is not when we deny the obvious. For instance, a sick person saying he is strong when he is in fact, dying. That would be a telling a lie.

 LESSONS FROM TODAY’S LITURGY
1. Just like the Israelites in the first reading, if we do not heed God’s invitation to amend our ways, we will go in for it and face the consequences of our refusal.
2. Let us not get so familiar with Jesus that we no longer revere him, especially in the Eucharist and other sacraments. Let us be wary of profaning his sacraments.
3. We should not be surprised if we are rejected for bearing his name.
 May God strengthen us not to give up when temptations come our way, and may we never despair. Amen.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: If Jesus was rejected, why do we think we may not suffer the same? Jesus who says to be his disciples will entail picking up one’s cross daily and following him (Lk 9:23-25). Why do we reject and avoid the cross in our generation rather than bearing it willingly and lovingly for the salvation of souls?

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