Fr. Rick’s Homily – 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

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

July 4, 2021

Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day.  Hard of face and obstinate of heart…..

Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place
and among his own kin and in his own house.” 
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,

Thank you for your generous donations to last week’s collection for the Peter’s Pence Fund….  We collected about $ 400

In this week’s gospel we see a remarkable contrast with the past two weeks.  Jesus has most recently raised a dead girl to life, cured a woman’s chronic bleeding disorder of many years and has calmed the sea and the wind during a violent storm.  What’s more, He does these things IMMEDIATELY.  But this week He seems powerless to work any dramatic miracles.  When faced with the lack of faith of those from His hometown, Jesus is illustrating the essential components of miracle working.

These miracles are not magic or some kind of hocus pocus.  Miracles require faith.  We recall from our other Bible studies that God the Father gave to Jesus ‘all the power and authority of heaven.’  The Father gave Him everything.  Jesus in turn was completely obedient and faithful to the Father’s wishes.  He was a perfect unobstructed conduit or channel of the Father’s power and authority.  The third essential element is the faithful seeker; someone who is often desperate and who calls out to God in a genuine sense of powerlessness and humility.  They somehow ‘know’ that, like Paul in the second reading today from 2 Corinthians, that in their weakness they are strong.  Once they are thoroughly convinced of their helplessness, they then too are open recipients of God’s power and authority over the clutches of sin and sickness and death.  This is also the prescription for dramatic miracles in our lives and in our world.  Miracles are ultimately very mysterious, but we can know the basic path to God’s power.  This is very relevant to us as Disciples of Christ because Jesus assured the disciples before returning to Heaven that, i.e., we, will work greater miracles than Jesus Himself.

We can see God’s power working all around us in the miracles of modern medicine, communication technology and transportation options to name just a few.  We see it even in the ability of amazingly diverse peoples to get along with each other reasonably well.  This despite their many difference and perhaps the attitudes of their ancestors.  But alas, we still have a need for much reordering, healing and community building.  Despite the power and authority of the Father and the Son available to us, God’s children are perhaps most often not trusting in Him.  We make up our own rules and actively resist the teachings of the Church which Jesus established in order to call us together to a more transcended state.

Like the Israelites being described in the first reading today from the prophet Ezekiel, we too can be rebellious, hard of face and obstinate of heart.  In fact on this particular weekend of the Fourth of July we are actually celebrating our rebellious nature which made the United States even possible.  To loosely paraphrase a popular movie from decades ago, “We don’t need no stinking king!”  Perhaps not, but in 2021 we most definitely still have a dire need for God and faithfulness.  Lately it seems that as Americans we have become much more rebellious than UNITED; let alone one nation under God.

Our circumstances fit quite well with Jesus’ assessment of His own situation in today Gospel.  “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”  Jesus is asking the question, “To whom to you give your primary allegiance?”

Humans are group animals, tribal people by nature.  Sometimes we’re even like a pack of animals that just follow the most bombastic or intimidating voices.  We are socialized in tribal families and learn how to maneuver and manipulate.  How to do ‘the dance.’  This becomes our normal.  How to get what we want, or think we need, with the minimum of vulnerability. 

We can extend this maneuvering and divided allegiance motif to our national ethos of the ‘American Dream.’  America is the place where the ideal is everyone can do whatever they want, can ‘identify’ anyway they want and somehow, miraculously, we will all be united.  That’s not working.  We have created a sort of mirage which is still very appealing to many.  Despite our alleged white racist structure we are still one of the premier destinations for the world’s desperate and suffering people including people of color who are escaping their home countries of color because they are treated so poorly.  Yet despite all the messiness, ambiguity and hypocrisy we are still all created in God’s image and likeness.  God loves us all the same.

In our more idealistic founding documents we even claim to be ‘one nation under God’, having ultimate allegiance to a Divine law, a Truth that is ‘self-evident’.  It seems that 2021 is an especially important time to revisit what this Divine law is all about.  The Catholic Church has libraries full of guidance on how to follow the Divine Law, but we must also untangle ourselves from the dance of the tribe and the self-centered pursuits of an elusive American Dream.

If we want miracles, AND WE DO NEED THEM, we have to put God first.  Since we are currently following the Gospel of Mark in our Sunday liturgies, it might be a good time to read through the whole Gospel of Mark in a just a few sittings.  It’s the shortest one; only about 16 chapters.  Once you get started it’s hard to put it down.  If you are on vacation and MAYBE forgot your Bible, you can even pull it up on your little divinely inspired hand-held device.

By our baptism we too, like Ezekiel, are called to be prophets, to eat this WORD and digest it.  To become what we eat. We too are called to minister to a rebellious people.  Let us now continue with the miracle of the Eucharistic celebration with a new commitment to actually becoming one body, one spirit in Christ.