Fr. Rick’s Homily: 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

July 7, 2024

Ez 2:2-5; Ps 123:1-4; 2 Cor 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6

Over the past few weeks in the Gospel of Mark we have heard Jesus calm the winds and raging sea, bring a dead girl back to life and cure a dying woman of a persistent hemorrhage.  Yet, when he gets to His hometown of Nazareth, He is not able to perform any miracles.  The reason is obvious; the people of Nazareth have no faith.  Their prior familiarity with Jesus and His family leaves them doubtful that any special power could emanate from these mere hometown folk.  Similar to their ancestors alluded to in the first reading today from the prophet Ezekial, the town folk remained stoic (perhaps hard faced and obstinate of heart?) at the profound changes in the one sent on a mission from God.  Jesus had been anointed and commissioned to bring the Good News that the world is bigger and more benevolent than most people believed.  The Creator of the Universe created us for love and peace, not just struggle, coping and intermittent happiness.  Why is this so hard to accept?  Why would the people not rejoice in a homey doing well?

Star athletes, military heroes, political leaders, pop stars are almost universally honored and celebrated in their hometowns with parades, streets and buildings named after them.  Why this resistance to Jesus and also to the words of God flowing through the prophet Ezekiel 5 or 600 years earlier?  Why the hard faces and obstinate hearts?  Hadn’t God already performed enough saving acts to convince them that God was on their side?

This lack of faith was always connected with a reluctance to follow the rules and directives of God and then to follow Jesus Himself and THEN imitate Him.  Besides the fact that God’s ways seem to always go against our fallen human natures, following Jesus would inevitably find us in conflict with the status quo.  With our homies and our families and co-workers.  Raising a moral or ethical standard usually doesn’t make us lots of friends.

It’s interesting how we have grown rather comfortable or at least jaded to the ideological polarization and conflict in our culture.  Both sides, or all sides, know that our conflicted human perspectives are much easier to manipulate and maneuver than having to deal with God’s standards.  Ultimately, God is calling us to recognize His goodness in all people from every background and persuasion.  If we find them detestable then we must find out why we are so threatened by them.  What part of us might be challenged to change?  Sometimes we can catch ourselves being ‘hard faced’ or ‘obstinate of heart.’ Sometimes we might be pressured to change too much or too fast.  Even if we know that a certain change might be for our own good, if we feel too pressured, we dig our heels in, raise our chin just a bit.  If a challenge comes with a tone of judgementalism then we might resist all the more, even if we know a change is good for us?

Most wars in human history are due to the reluctance to see in others what God sees in all of us.  The peace and joy that God is always offering us is just too much to bear.  It seems absurd.

Humans are really helpless in the face of our universal confusion because ultimately the Devil is behind all the confusion.  That’s his (or her?) specialty, lies and confusion.  Since the tree of knowledge episode in the Garden of Eden we have proven ourselves helpless.  But God has not left us helpless orphans.  He has sent us an advocate.  It is the Holy Spirit.

Read passage on the Holy Spirit from the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration newsletter (Our Lady of Solitude Monastery, Tonopah, AZ)….


St. Bonaventure writes in his work, Collations on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, “The Seven Gifts complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them.  They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.”  The gifts of the Holy Spirit are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.  The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are freely given by God without our merit to enhance and refine our souls’ natural powers.

Our soul is of the greatest value to God because it is the apart of us that reflect His image.  Therefore, the Holy Spirit is always at work, prompting us to greater purity, love, and holiness to be formed in His image.  The Seven Gifts were first introduced during our Confirmation preparation classes, and their mysterious powers descended up us when we received the sacrament of Confirmation.  Although they ae active in our everyday lives, our hearts are not always sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings.  Our response is required to obtain the full benefit and graces of these gifts.  A relationship with the Holy Spirit is no different than a relationship with a dear friend or a beloved relative. 


Without being sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit we will be afraid of Jesus and His demands.  We will have already allowed ourselves to be sated as related in today’s Psalm 123: 

Have pity on us, O LORD, have pity on us,
for we are more than sated with contempt;
our souls are more than sated
with the mockery of the arrogant,
with the contempt of the proud.

The devil has had his way with us and we are now filled with everything BUT Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Jesus would definitely be challenging the world view of all around Him.  The changes were probably not comfortable for even His closest followers.  Always stretching.  Always questioning, “What next?”  “Why doesn’t he just keep moving on to the next town?”.  “Thanks, but NO THANKS, Jesus!” 

Please consider these reflection questions which are also located in today’s bulletin.  I’ve already given you a possible answer to the first question.

Why would the peoples’ familiarity with Jesus and His family cause a lack of faith despite his most previous reputation of working profound miracles in a variety of other settings?  Why would people fear His message of a benevolent God who wanted them to live in peace and joy?

How have you and your familiars responded to a friend or family member who has demonstrated a new enthusiasm for their faith or experience of God?

When have you shared a new faith journey or awakening with friends, family or co-workers?  How did they respond?  How did that affect your relationship with them?  How did their reaction change your faith journey?  More confident?  More apprehensive or tepid?

What types of ‘mighty works’ have you performed since you have deepened your relationship with Jesus?  What ‘mighty works’ have your performed since you have more deliberately cultivated the Gifts of the Holy Spirit?