14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Psalm 123:1-2, 2, 3-4 (2cd)
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
July 4, 2021
Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place.”
Hum…Either God has a sense of humor or I am in trouble!
Why? For those who don’t know me, I am Fr. Jeff Tunnicliff (I go by Fr. Jeff) and this is my first weekend as the Parochial Administrator here. Please note that I said “my first weekend as…” This is my first weekend assigned here but it is not my first-time saying Mass here. In fact, the very first Mass I presided at was here because this is my “native place.”
So, again, does God has a sense of humor in having this reading come up today or God is telling me I might be in for trouble as I try to minister in my native place?
When Jesus started to preach in his native place, the people were “astonished” but not in a good way. They thought they knew who he was. They didn’t believe he would know such things.
Some of you know me from the past. I used to be an engineer. After 14 years of priesthood, I have changed some. Will you listen to what I say?
Jesus, as the son of Joseph, was a carpenter. I am the son of a plumber, but I am not here to fix the plumbing. I am here to help you grow in your relationship with God.
Speaking to the prophet Ezekiel, the Lord tells him, “I am sending you to the Israelites.” God identifies the Israelites as “Hard of face and obstinate of heart.” God has sent me to you. I hope you are not “Hard of face and obstinate of heart.”
How have you changed in 14 years? I know some parishioners have died. I even did some of their funerals. Others have moved away or no longer able to come. I remember some of your names but please help me to remember. There are also new people (you’ll need to tell me your names several times as I am a slow learner when it comes to names).
What we have in common is faith in God.
Jesus “was not able to perform any mighty deed” in his native place because of the people’s lack of faith in who He was.
I am not here to do what you want. Hearing that you might think that I am one of those people who does what I want. No. I am not here to do what I want.
I know I have my weaknesses. I am not good at everything. For instance, I know Fr. Steve is a musician. I am not. He led the music at some of the Masses. I will not be doing that. It is not my strength. I don’t have the gift of music and I’m not supposed to. However, I know God has given others that gift. I know we have some good musicians here already. I am counting on more to come forth to lead the music that I cannot. (If you have the gift of music and want to volunteer, please let me know). God will provide.
If I am not here to do what you want and I am not here to do what I want, what am I here to do?
I am here to do what God wants. I am here to help you know how God calls us to live not just as commandments but as a way of life.
Is this easy? No. It can be hard. There is plenty of temptation in the world. The devil is cunning. The good news is Jesus wants to save us.
Jesus provides us with the spiritual food we need in his Body and Blood that we receive in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is God’s gift to us, a gift we very much need. It is Jesus! Presiding at the Eucharist is one of my three most favorite things to do as a priest.
How are we to know how God calls us to live? It centers on God’s Word as revealed to us in scripture. It also relates another of my three favorite things to do as a priest, to teach. I love to write articles on my blog and to offer presentations on aspects of our faith.
Do we always succeed in doing what God asks of us?
That brings us to the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness. This is the third of my favorite things to do. It is not that I want to hear your sins. I truly believe God is at work in this Sacrament. Jesus died for us on the Cross so that our sins can be forgiven.
Today we celebrate the Fourth of July as a national holiday. It is a day to celebrate freedom. One might think that we are free to do whatever we want. God gives us free will but what do we with it?
Here, I offer a quote from Pope John Paul II in his 1995 visit to the United States, “Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”
Let us keep our eyes fixed on the Lord.