14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

BILINGUAL REFLECTIONS FOR SUNDAY

14th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B) Mark 6: 1-6 - July 08, 2018

Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!.“

I remember when Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyła was elected to the papacy in 1978 Polish people around the world were overjoyed to have a countryman become for the first time a pope of the Catholic Church. The same thing happened with people from Argentina when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope. People are proud when a hometown scientist, artist, sport man or sport woman is recognized for his or her talents. But this did not happen with Jesus. The Gospel tells us that the inhabitants of his native place found him too much for them. According to their opinion, Jesus was an ordinary person whom they knew very well, his occupation, his family and extended family; and they said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they took offense at him. 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.”


A prophet, like Jesus, could be a challenge, and even a threat to the people, because a prophet is a person who speaks on behalf of God, and through him God teaches us, and also calls us to conversion and change from our bad behavior. This had happened to the prophets in the Old Testament, like Ezekiel through whom we hear God saying in our first reading today: “I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me (…) Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you (…) they shall know that a prophet has been among them.”

We know that during Jesus´ boyhood, as good Jews, his parents annually traveled with him to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Then as an adult, the Gospels tell us, Jesus was very faithful going each Saturday to participate at worship in the synagogue. The evangelist Mark explicitly talks about his presence in a synagogue: “When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.” Besides, he spent some time in private prayer, as we continually find in the Gospels that he retired by himself to a mountain to pray, and many times went to a lonely place to pray.

During the prophets´ ministry as well as during Jesus´ preaching, people could not cope with the truth. We hear Ezekiel saying that “they would know there is a prophet among them.” And today´s Gospel ends, “Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith.” When some politicians cannot refute an opponent´s argument they attack his or her life´s background, or private failures. When teenagers question their parents´ or teachers´ lack of honesty or coherence, the adults can say, “Who are you to tell me what to do? You are only a kid.” Or “Who do you think you are?” The Jews at the synagogue seemed to ask Jesus, “Who do think you are? You are only a Jew like us?” So, they questioned Jesus.

If we Christians accept Jesus, we believe and accept everything he teaches in the Gospel. Even thought some issues of our faith and morality may seem very difficult to accept, we need the humility to admit that we are not arbiters of truth. For instance, some people feel that stealing, being unfaithful, or saying a “white lie” is not a sin; the honest person would say: “it is God´s law.” Cheating is sin in all circumstances. It takes courage to be a prophet and say, “Even if many people do it, cheating is wrong.”

We hear God telling Ezekiel, “You shall say to them, ‘thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they heed or resist, for they are a rebellious people, they shall know that a prophet has been among them.” Many people may be against assertion of the truth, but this is the cost of being a prophet. We have been called to proclaim that Jesus is indeed the Prophet and we live and proclaim his truth.

Jesus, the great prophet, is still with us. He speaks to us in the Scriptures, and by the teaching of the Church and the signs of the times. Are we Catholics afraid that these teachings can challenge our way of thinking and acting? Today, like in the past Sundays, Jesus questions and challenges our faith.

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