Readings of the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
PAYING THE PRICE
In the Sunday Lectionary, the first reading is usually chosen from anywhere in the Hebrew Bible to tie together with the Gospel. Currently, the second reading is from Saint Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Often the second reading is not so closely related to the day’s Gospel selection, because those books are read in a more continuous fashion from week to week. But today, all three of the scripture readings go together very well Ezekiel struggles with the job he is given by the Lord, speaking to a rebellious people. Paul is dealing with a “thorn in his side,” that is, the difficulties of his own personal weakness and foibles, and learning to rely on God’s grace. Mark’s Gospel introduces us to a Jesus who is struggling to be believed and accepted in his native country. In all three passages, the major figures are following the will of God and paying the price of rejection by the community for their efforts.
I DON’T GET NO RESPECT
Years ago there was a popular comedian named Rodney Dangerfield, and he would riff about his family life or his work and his catchphrase was “I don’t get no respect!” You knew this refrain was coming, and was part of the punch line, so you waited to hear it and usually laughed or groaned with it. The idea of Jesus being disrespected is a much more foreign feeling. It is easy to forget that Jesus was both human and divine. We can easily romanticize his life and ministry and forget his struggles and the difficulty he had being heard, understood, and respected, especially in his own country. Placed in the larger context of Mark’s story, this was very early in Jesus’ ministry, and the message he was proclaiming was not what the people wanted to hear. Jesus was not speaking about the Messiah that the Jews were hoping for. Add that together with the fact that people are often hardest on their own. Somehow “local boy makes good” just didn’t sit well with them, and they didn’t want to have anything to do with Jesus or his message. Jesus was caught off guard by this.
A MESSAGE FOR OUR TIME
There are times when being Catholic, or even being Christian is very countercultural. It used to be you belonged to a parish, and that was your home, based on your geographic boundaries or ethnicity. But now people change parishes depending on pastors, styles of music, or the Mass schedule. In these days of Covid-19, many who stayed away because of social distancing have not yet found their way back. Many never recovered from their disillusionment over the abuse scandals. Others left Catholicism for non denominational churches, or explored other paths such as Buddhism. Still others consider themselves “spiritual but not religious” or are labeled “nones.” Frequently, families who once sat together every week in church are now scattered all over the spiritual spectrum. In the face of all this, let us pray for the strength of Ezekiel to continue to preach our faith by the lives we live, despite everything in our culture that rebels against religion. May we have the wisdom of Paul to persevere despite our weaknesses and the thorns in our side. And like Jesus, may we always find the faith we need to endure, even when those around us do not.
Psalm 123:1-2, 2, 3-4
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
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