Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 4
As Members of the Body of Christ, May We Always Reach Out with Patience and Humility to God’s Children – to Those Who Hunger for His Truth and Also to Those Who Have Lost Their Way in Life.
We read in today’s Gospel, “He was amazed at their lack of faith.”
Here was Jesus standing in front of those with whom He had grown up and knew so well. And possibly due to this degree of familiarity, many in His home town rejected Him, and Jesus responds, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
When I began to prepare this meditation on today’s Scripture Readings, the experience of both Jesus and God’s call to the prophet Ezekiel reminded me of my own past experiences.
Throughout the years and the many different ministries in which I have been personally involved, there were several instances in which family and friends, at one time or another, would ask me for spiritual or moral advice.
And no matter how pastorally or gently I approached their concerns or questions, they did not like to hear the Church’s teachings, especially when the teachings contradicted their own way of thinking or personal convictions. I guess they assumed I would change God’s Truth to address their issues in a way that would be pleasing or acceptable to them.
By virtue of our Baptism in Jesus Christ, we are each called to be prophets of God’s Truth. In other words, we are each called to live and give witness to the wondrous and indescribable Love which God has for all His children.
But we also know that, in a society which is secularly oriented, a society which prides itself on personal gratification and success at any price, many have made a willful choice to close the eyes and the ears of their hearts and souls to all that God is asking of them.
Many in today’s world are no different than those about whom God was referring when He called Ezekiel to be His voice to a people who were rebellious of the ways of God, “Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you.”
Even in the cultural climates which many people live today, there are many who call themselves Christian, but do not practice what our faith espouses, either through ignorance or willful choice. They have voiced their rebellion against the ways of God and the teachings of the Church, causing scandal by preferring to remake God in their image, for there are many Catholics who support artificial birth control, same-sex marriages and abortion – all contrary to the will and mind of God.
And it is for all our brothers and sisters in Christ who have chosen to travel down a dark path that we pray the words which we find repeated in today’s antiphon to the Responsorial Psalm, “Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.”
Saint Paul was no stranger to the fickleness and vacillation of the human heart. In many of his Letters, he would exhort his listeners to stay true to the Gospel of Christ. But he also reminds each of us today that for those of us who do remain faithful to God’s Truth, for those of us who always keep the eyes of our hearts focused on Jesus Christ – it is important that we not become prideful; it is important that we not become arrogant in the practice of our faith; for if we do, we too, begin to backslide.
Paul reminds us to remain humble, to remain meek of heart, for when we are weak, we become strong in the eyes of God. When we truly embrace the virtue of humility, we become more Christ-like – remembering the words which Christ once taught us, “…learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.”
Arrogance, pride, conceit, feelings of self-importance – these were all traits that Jesus found in those to whom He was preaching in today’s Gospel. And they are traits which separate us from God’s Love.
They are traits which make us “Hard of face and obstinate of heart…” as were the Israelites in our First Reading. They are traits which deny the gifts with which God’s Spirit wishes to fill us.
Ultimately, they become the traits which expose our lack of faith and which places us at odds with the God of Love, and which sets up a barrier to His Divine Mercy, for the seductions of this world’s secularistic culture are very strong, especially attacking those who are weak of faith and those most vulnerable to the lies and deceits propagated by the prince of this world, Satan.
And yet, in spite of all the darkness which pervades much of today’s society, we are each called to live as Christ would have us live – we are each called to love our neighbor, no matter how difficult. And we are to never stop reaching out to all of God’s children with compassionate understanding and with the same mercy which Christ showed towards those who crucified Him.
For those who are weak or absent of faith and continue to offend God’s Love through their words and actions, whether unwittingly or by willful choice, they are still God’s children who continue to crucify our Lord; they continue to scourge and crown Him with thorns; they continue to drive the nails into His hands and feet!
And yet, in spite of all the suffering which they cause to the Merciful Heart of our Lord and to His faithful children in the world, God still loves them with a Love which is indescribable in human terms. And He continues to reach out to them, for He desires that no one be lost for all eternity, and His reach is world-wide through people like you and me.
As faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, we are each called to be Christ-like in the lives we live in all our relationships with others, living out our baptismal vows – giving witness to God’s Truth, not unlike what Ezekiel was called to do – giving witness to the ways of God, even to those whose hearts are cold and calloused.
The challenge for the Church today, and for each one of us, is reaching out to those who are “Hard of face and obstinate of heart…”, evangelizing God’s Truth with compassion and love, mercy and understanding – all without watering down, without diluting God’s Truth!
Evangelization is oftentimes a real challenge, as I personally have realized through this international apostolate which reaches out to God’s children in many diverse and varied cultures, but it is a challenge well worth every pastoral and spiritual effort, for, without being judgmental, we are talking about the salvation of souls – not only theirs, but also ours!
In Saint James Epistle, he writes, “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”
And Jesus Himself reminds us of the joy that fills God’s Heart with the words, “…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents…”
Let us pray that as members of the Body of Christ – whether we be male or female, single or married, professional or blue collar, layperson or cleric – with hearts filled with compassion and love, mercy and understanding, in imitation of all that Christ has taught us and all that He expects of us, may we always reach out with patience and humility to God’s children – to those who hunger for His Truth and also to those who have lost their way in this life.
And may His Loving embrace gently guide His lost sheep back into the one true fold, where we may all be as one – giving praise and glory to His Most Holy Name. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house…He was amazed at their lack of faith.” (Mark 6:4, 6)
- “…the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard the one who was speaking say to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me…Their children are bold of face and stubborn of heart – to them I am sending you…And whether they hear or resist – they are a rebellious house – they shall know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:2-3a, 4ab, 5)
- “Do not fear, even though there are briers or thorns and you sit among scorpions…You must speak my words to them, whether they hear or resist, because they are rebellious.” (Ezekiel 2:6b, 7)
- “Show us favor, LORD, show us favor, for we have our fill of contempt. Our souls are more than sated with mockery from the insolent, with contempt from the arrogant.” (Psalm 123:3-4)
- “So our eyes are on the LORD our God, till we are shown favor.” (Psalm 123:2cd)
- “[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9a)
- “…learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” (Matthew 11:29ab)
- “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone…This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1, 3-4)
- “[The Lord] is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9b)
- “Do I find pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord GOD? Do I not rejoice when they turn from their evil way and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)
- “My brothers, if anyone among you should stray from the truth and someone bring him back, he should know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
- “…there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
Prayer for the Day
“Dear Jesus,Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
“Flood my soul with Your Spirit and Love.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly
that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
“Shine through me and be so in me
that every soul I come in contact with
may feel Your Presence in my soul.
“Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus.
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others.”