Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 4, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
Sunday Reading Meditations
Today’s Word of God is about rejection. The first reading speaks about the rejection of the Prophet Ezekiel by the priests of the temple and the people of Jerusalem, who would not listen to him. The same thing happened to Jesus. The Gospel speaks about Jesus’ rejection by his relatives, neighbors and friends. People with whom he lived, people who grew up with him and went to school with him did not accept his new authority.
To be rejected is always painful. It is even worse to be rejected by people we know. We can easily imagine what Jesus felt in the synagogue of Nazareth. Jesus was saddened at being rejected but, most of all, he was amazed by the lack of faith among the people from his hometown (cf. Mt 6:6).
Their preconceptions were more important to them than what was happening before their eyes. What they had in their minds was more important to them than the reality. They did not accept the newness that Jesus was bringing to them.
Their astonishment at Jesus (“Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands?” [Mk 6:2]) was suffocated by their prejudice (“Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary … ?” [Mk 6:3]). The Gospel says that they took offense at him. They had a certain idea about Jesus so they rejected the real Jesus in front of them.
My dear friends, our faith is not based on ideas. It is based on a person, who is real.
Jesus was rejected 2,000 years ago in Nazareth and is still being rejected today. Even for people like us, people accustomed to religious things, Jesus can easily become an idea or a feeling, a figure we imagine instead of who he really is. Is our faith is a routine of rites and prayers or a real relationship with Christ?
The way that Christ comes now is through the Church. The Church is the extension of his person in history. Today, Jesus’ authority manifests itself in two different ways: the authority of those who have the responsibility for guiding the Church and the authority of the saints. The latter is the more important because sanctity is the end, while leadership is merely the means. That is why the Church canonizes those who live their faith in an exemplary way, rather than those who have the most responsibility.
The prejudice that prevented the people of Nazareth from recognizing Jesus as a prophet of God was due to their lack of humility. In the second reading, Saint Paul reminds us about the importance of humility. He says that he had a “thorn in the flesh,” which did not allow him to “become too elated.” Without humility, it is impossible to accept Jesus’ authority in our lives.
Let us pray for the grace of Christ to conquer all our prejudices that prevent us from recognizing his timeliness, for Our Lord to give us humble hearts able to accept Jesus in the way that he desires to come to us. Amen.