Grace to Face the World and Grace to Face Myself

Sunday, July 4, 2021 14th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

The tie in between today’s readings is: Those that Don’t and Those that Won’t Believe

Psalm 123Ezekiel 2:2-52 Corinthians 12:7-10Mark 6:1-6

The first point in Psalm 123 is you are God and we are your servants.  The second point is prayer for God’s grace in enduring the scoffing contempt of unbelievers.  It is a great privilege to be in God’s family with the promises of heaven and spiritual blessings on earth. We, however have a duty as servants to become more like our Master obeying God, loving our neighbor and spreading the gospel.  In a broken world that does not know Jesus, there are insults if not outright hostility toward the Church.  Yet, these are the ones we are sent to reach.  It can only be done by the grace and power of God in us through the Holy Spirit. In 2 Corinthians, God takes the apostle Paul on a trip to heaven and blows his mind.  In order to keep Paul from being too proud about it, a torment from Satan is sent as a counterweight to keep Paul’s feet on the ground.  When Paul asks God to take it away, God answers, “My grace is enough for you,” which circles back to Psalm 123.  Paul is then content with his inability in the situation and trusts God through the insults, persecutions, the difficulties, and distresses he receives during his mission.  We can contend with an unbelieving world today because we have an unimaginable destination tomorrow.  Blessed are you WHEN people insult you and persecute you and say all manner of evil falsely against you FOR MY SAKE.  Great is your reward in heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets. Matt 5:11-12   

Our prophet in today’s reading is Ezekiel, one of the many prophets that was not sent out into the unbelieving world, but instead to a rebellious church:  the nation of Israel. Ezekiel is commissioned to warn God’s stubborn and obstinate children, showing once again that God loves them, but they need to turn back before it’s too late and He must judge them. Ezekiel’s problem is, unlike the unbelievers who don’t know God, inside the Church are the people who won’t know God.  They just refuse.  They have God all straight jacketed in their head and they won’t let Him out. This is picked up in today’s gospel (Mark 6) when Jesus comes back to his neighborhood and despite His undeniable wisdom and word of his great miracles they only see him as the guy that made their dinette set.  Jesus’ reaction is “You gotta be kidding me!”  This theme is played out all through the gospels with the Pharisees. He came unto His own and they did not receive Him. He doesn’t say what they want to hear, so they won’t listen.

So in spreading the gospel to the unbelieving world, let’s speak the truth in love and accept the blowback with God’s grace.  We in the Church need to foster an ever-expanding understanding of God through Bible study and prayer, bend to it, and repent of sin revealed through it, so that in the end, we may become good and faithful servants…and better spread the word to an unbelieving world.

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