Gospel Meditation for the 14th Sunday of Year B

malzaire2Reflections for July are by Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, Bishop of Roseau, Dominica

Ezel. 2:2-5; 2;  Cor.12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all three protagonists in the lessons for this 14th Sunday liturgy: Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus, are shown to be ministering in the amidst of great opposition. From this perspective, can we conclude that opposition is a necessary or an inevitable part of the Christian journey? Perhaps a little unraveling of the text can assist in determining a conclusion and in the process help us forge a lesson for today.

This section of the prophet Ezekiel’s message (the vision of the scroll) took place during his ministry in Palestine prior to joining the exiles in Babylonian. It was a time of great distress. Therefore, the reproaches addressed to the people of Jerusalem were useful lessons for the exiles in Babylon. Here Ezekiel is being sent to those who have rebelled against God’s word. He is commissioned to preach that word, welcome or unwelcome.

Jesus in his turn, going to his hometown, is faced with incredulity from his own people. They questioned his credentials and credibility simply because he was known by them - they knew him in “short pants” so to speak. This brought him to what seems like the universal conclusion that “a prophet is only despised in his own country among his own relations and in his own house.” As a result, “he could work no miracle there.”

Paul is hear addressing one of his most challenging missionary communities - Corinth; a city described as a “center of immorality.” It was a “milieu that could only create awkward problems for those newly converted to the faith which had only recently been introduced.” Thus, the expression of Paul’s difficulty could be appreciated. He concludes: “I shall be happy to make my weakness my special boast so that the power of Christ many stay over me.”

What is common to all three texts is a clear resistance to the divine agenda. Given the path which the life of Jesus took for the sake of human salvation, his teaching on the inevitableness of suffering on behalf of the Word, and of course, the testimonies of the lives of the apostles, Paul’s affirmation in today’s second reading sets the stage for the disposition expected of the modern Christian in the task of working out salvation in today’s world.

The truth is, the work of salvation is ultimately a fight against sin, which bears fruit in human weakness and frailty. Paul attests to the fact that the possibility of victory over that sinful tendency does not depend solely on his own efforts. His victory is based on the fact that God has intervened with his Word, Jesus, and made salvation possible. Therefore, he has nothing to boast about except the fact that when he displays utter dependency on God then he is strong. What can be more consoling than this for all of us since we can all identify with Paul’s situation? Like him, therefore, only our tenacious adherence to the prophetic word can help us through the battles of this present life. For this we say, thanks be to God!

Let us Pray:

Heavenly Father, source of all good, be our help on our journey in this present age of challenge. Help us realize that even our weaknesses can provide opportunities to know how dependent we ought to be on your grace. Help us never to overestimate ourself, but to grow in the humility which reveals that “your grace is enough for us. Amen!!