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This week’s theme: Weakness and Strength.
Ezekiel 2: 2-5
(The 1st Reading is Old Testament. It always links to the Gospel.)
Today we hear from one of the 4 major prophets, Ezekiel. (The other 3 are Isaiah, Daniel and Jeremiah). This is “The Call” from God to Ezekiel in chapter 2. Right before this, for those who may know, it’s Ezekiel’s “wheel inside a wheel” vision. In short, as you listen to the reading at mass, remember that Ezekiel is hearing this while being completely blown away by the glory and majesty of God that he can see and hear all around him.
We also see reference to the Holy Spirit (“the spirit”). In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is present but mostly we see Him “upon” someone. Saul. David. Kings of Israel. It’s not that there was only 1 spirit and it hopped around from one to another, but there is scriptural evidence that the spirit “left” individuals sometimes (e.g. Saul). This idea is contrasted with the reality after Christ came that we are baptized with the Holy Spirit and He is with us always, until death. Now we have to make the choices whether or not we call upon Him, but there is a more permanent presence to the Holy Spirit after Christ came, after the Old Covenant was perfected by the New.
Also note the theme of rebellion below. Consider today, how is God calling you? Are you rebelling like the Israelites, or are you praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit within you to be strengthened?
As the LORD spoke to me, 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,
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
are they to whom I am sending you.
But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD!
And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—
they shall know that a prophet has been among them.
Psalm 123:Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.
(The Psalm is a “response” to what we heard in the 1st Reading)
We hear in the psalm the words of the Israelites when they are aware of the distance between them and God. That we too might fix our eyes on God when we have rebelled and think we know better than He does!
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.
2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
(The 2nd reading is usually from Paul’s letters. Speaks to how the early church was built after Christ’s death and resurrection).
A priest in California writes a blog by the same name, and we’ve exchanged supportive emails these past 2 years. Sometimes I check what he’s written about the readings, and today is one of those days 🙂 Fr. Welbers says,
“Many people in Corinth took their spiritual gifts too seriously: ‘I have this or that charism or ability, therefore I’m better than you. Paul emphasized that these gifts were nothing without love. Here Paul tries to match their arrogant boasting by pointing to his own weakness as manifesting God’s power. Nobody really knows what the ‘thorn in the flesh’ really was, but that doesn’t stop our overeager imaginations from dreaming up all sorts of things…”
The point being, our weakness can be our strength; or rather they can allow us to make room for God to come in and make us strong. So when it comes to our weaknesses, let us see them as Paul does: A way for us to be smaller and God to be bigger.
That I, Paul, might not become too elated,
because of the abundance of the revelations,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Mark 6: 1-6
(The Gospel is the highest point of the Liturgy of the Word. That’s why we stand.
We are about to hear from and be instructed by Christ Himself.)
In the first reading we see Ezekiel’s call. He is basically ‘clothed’ in the Holy Spirit and sent out to do the will of God. He is ready. He has the armor he needs, though the task will be tough.
In the gospel, the Holy Spirit Himself – Jesus Christ – is out (e.g. ‘sent out’) amongst the people and attempts to call them to Him. He taught. They were astonished. They questioned, but they did not believe. Not all the way. They had reservations. They asked questions: “Who is this and where did he come from?” In the end, though Jesus wanted to perform miracles there He did not. He was not welcome there, not even in his home town.
Is Jesus waiting to do a miracle for us this week, this year? Are we open to believing that He can? Or do we question?
I question. Even though I shouldn’t, I still do. Why is that? Because suffering is hard. I’d really rather not. I bet you know the feeling. This week, I’m going to try harder to “big-T” Trust. To believe and allow His strength to overcome my weakness.
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished.
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.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.