14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Psalm 123:1-2, 2, 2-4 (2cd)
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
July 8, 2018
One might think that people from Jesus’ “native place” would welcome him with great fanfare as the hometown boy. If somebody becomes famous today, their hometown often puts up a big welcome sign with the person’s name on it, give them a parade, or give them the key to the town.
Jesus gets none of that. Instead we hear they are “astonished.” They think they know him well as the carpenter and as Mary’s son. Because they think they know him well, they are not open to his full identity or believing in his wisdom or power to do “mighty deeds.”
For us, their disbelief might seem foolish because we know Jesus to be the Messiah. Yet, do we not sometimes look at people in a similar way? For example, if we know someone to be heavy drinker, do we believe them if they say they are now sober? If we know someone to be a quiet person, are we open to them becoming a great public speaker?
What about ourselves? If someone asks us to do something new, are we open to the possibility of it? If someone asks us to do something outside our comfort zone, would we even consider it?
What if the someone asking is God?
We see it in Moses and prophets. If you read the stories of many of the prophets, you will see that when they receive a calling from God, many, if not all of them, immediately offer a reason as to why they can’t do it.
Speaking to Ezekiel at his calling, God even tells Ezekiel how hard it will be because the people to whom he is sending Ezekiel are “hard of face and obstinate of heart.”
When we are asked to do something new or more challenging, we might rush to come up with a list of weaknesses that keep us from being able to do. Some of those weaknesses can be real. For these, we must be honest with the person asking us to do it.
On the other hand, if it is God asking us, then we can trust that God will give us what we need. God chooses to work through the weak that we might know it is by God’s grace that good things happen. If the person is able to do it on their own, we might fail to see God’s presence in it. On the other hand, if we see them do something we don’t think they are capable of, then we know it comes from God.
We might also think about what it means to succeed in doing what is asked of us. If someone asks us to help them move something, success is achieved when the object is in its new place. If the object ways 100 lbs., we might know it is too heavy for us to move. Then success for our part might come not in moving it ourselves but in helping them find someone who can move it for them.
If God calls us to move an object, if we can move it ourselves, we do. If we can’t move it ourselves, then we look for someone who can and the object gets moved.
What about if God asks us to share what he says to us with people who don’t come to church? Here we might think that success is achieved when the person begins coming to church regularly. That would signify success but is it the only way success is achieved?
What did I say God asked of us? To share what he has said to us with others. While the ultimate goal is to get them to belief, that wasn’t what I said God asked of us.
It is our role to tell them what God means for us in our lives. It is our role to tell them anything God directs us to say to them but then we are to leave it in God’s hands. If God asks us to do more, then we do more.
We are not to give up if people don’t start coming to church. We share what we have to offer about our faith. It is their free will to choose how to respond.