14th Sunday OTB

Ezekiel 2, 2-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12, 7-10; St. Mark 6, 1-6

Dear friends! The first reading from the book of the prophet Ezekiel, tells us about his receiving God’s call to become His prophet. Yahweh warns Ezekiel that he is being sent to obstinate and rebellious Israelites in exile in Babylon. As God’s prophet, he will have to face rejection and persecution for giving God’s message. The reading gives us the warning that, as Christians who accept the call of Jesus and seek to follow him, we also may face indifference and hostility, contempt and scorn, weakness, hardship and persecution, insults and rejection. In today’s gospel,  Jesus was rejected by his own people.

A traveling circus in Denmark caught fire. The manager thereupon sent the clown, who was already dressed and made up for the performance, into the neighboring village to fetch help, especially as there was a danger that the fire would spread across the fields of dry stubble and engulf the village itself.

The clown hurried into the village and requested the inhabitants to come as quickly as possible to the blazing circus and help to put the fire out. But the villagers took the clown’s shouts simply for an excellent piece of advertising, meant to attract as many people as possible to the performance; they applauded the clown and laughed till they cried. The clown felt more like weeping than laughing; he tried in vain to get people to be serious, to make it clear to them that this was no stunt, that he was not pretending but was in bitter earnest, that there really was a fire. His supplications only increased the laughter; people thought he was playing his part splendidly — until finally the fire did engulf the village; it was too late for help, and both circus and village were burned to the ground.

The main reason why the villagers didn’t listen to the man was that they looked upon him as a clown. This made it virtually impossible for them to examine the truth of what he was saying to them.

Something similar happened to Jesus when he returned to his native village of Nazareth. The people refused to listen to him. They claimed to know everything about him. The message never had a chance because they rejected the messenger. In fact, they tried to do away with him.

The story of Jesus’ rejection in his own town is a story that we can identify with, because it is a story that has happened to most of us. We might have felt the pain of rejection experienced in hurts, wounds, betrayal, divorce, abandonment, violated trust, trauma, neglect or various forms of abuse. What about rejection by those closest to us? Often our friends, families, or childhood companions fail to listen to, and refuse to accept, the words of grace, love and encouragement that we offer to them, because they are too familiar with us. Hence, they are unable to see us as God’s appointed instruments, the agents of God’s healing and saving grace.

Let us check also the other side of the coin. How often do we discount God’s agents through prejudice? How often do we fail to see God’s image in them because of our own hardheartedness? We must realize that God’s power is always available to transform even the most unlikely people. 

We need to speak the truth of Christ without being hypocritical or disrespectful. We must never remain silent in the face of evil for fear of being thought “politically incorrect.” Jesus was not against conflict if it promoted truth. He taught us to give respect and freedom without condoning or encouraging sinful behavior. Love does not tolerate destructive behavior but, nevertheless, it sometimes causes pain – just as a surgeon must sometimes hurt in order to heal. We can be kind, charitable, and honest and forgiving and still speak our own convictions as Jesus did in the synagogue.