This weekend, the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the readings remind us of the important fact that God chooses whomever He wishes, whether we agree with His choice or not. In the first reading, Ezekiel is told to deliver the word of God to the people whether they heed it or resist it. This is difficult. In order to do it, the prophet must always be aware that the message he delivers is not his own but God’s. In the Gospel, Jesus receives a cool welcome when He dares to bring God’s message to the people of His hometown. Their familiarity with Him is an obstacle. Mark teaches us that without faith it is impossible to be aware of the truth and the sacred in our midst. Paul tells us of his problems and in his weakness he relies on God’s power and strength.
First Reading: Ezekiel 2:2-5
2 As he spoke to me, spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard the one who was speaking 3 say to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their fathers have revolted against me to this very day. 4 Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD! 5 And whether they heed or resist–for they are a rebellious house–they shall know that a prophet has been among them.
NOTES on First Reading:
* 2:2 Spirit means the vital power that comes from God and enables the prophet to hear the word of God. See Ezekiel 8:3; 9:24; 11:1.
* 2:3 The term, “son of man” is used over 90 times in Ezekiel. It is the common way that God addresses him. The term stresses the difference between the Divine Being who speaks and the human who hears.
* 2:5 Ezekiel ends nearly all his oracles with a recognition statement like this one. Whether they listen or not the people will recognize that Yahweh has done something.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10
7 Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. 10 Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
NOTES on Second Reading:
* 12:7 The “thorn in the flesh” has been variously interpreted as a sickness or physical disability, a temptation, or a handicap connected with his apostolic activity. However, since Hebrew “thorn in the flesh,” like English “thorn in my side,” usually refers to persons (Numbers 33:55; Ezekiel 28:24), Paul may be referring to some especially persistent and obnoxious opponent. The language here also permits this interpretation. Paul may well be referring to his opposition using the image of one individual who embodies all the qualities Paul attributes to the group aligned against him. The term, angel of Satan, means a personal messenger from Satan. The satanic language was already applied to his opponents in 2 Cor 11:3,13-15,20.
* 12:9 In Paul’s weakness the strength of Jesus may be manifest.
* 12:10 Paul does not mean that weakness is power or that the weak will become powerful as in Luke 1:46-55. Jesus is the model for a double pattern in the resolution of the weakness-power (and death-life) dialectic which Paul uses. The first is a personal reversal in himself (said of Jesus in 2 Cor 13:4a; of Paul in 2 Cor 1:9-10; 4:10-11; 6:9). The second is an apostolic effect on others (said of Jesus in 2 Cor 5:14-15; of Paul in 2 Cor 1:6; 4:12; 13:9).
Gospel Reading: Mark 6:1-6
1 He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. 2 When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 3 Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” 5 So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.
NOTES on Gospel:
* 6:1 The Greek word can mean “native land” but here refers to Nazareth. There is a contrast that is suggested between the disciples who follow Jesus and the people of His hometown who reject Him.
* 6:2 The description of Jesus as teacher echoes back to 1:21-28. The initial reaction of the people is surprise. They ask about the source of His wisdom and power in terms of His instructor but the source of both is God.
* 6:3 This is the only gospel that calls Jesus a carpenter. Some manuscripts have “son of the carpenter” as in Mt 13:55.
The Jewish custom is to refer to a man as the son of his father. Here Mark reports the use of the words, “son of Mary.” This is unusual and some have suggested that it may reflect Mark’s faith that Jesus is the Son of God rather than the son of Joseph. Others have suggested that the expression indicates that Joseph was dead when this event occurred. Many scholars think that it may have been intended as an insult to Him by the people who said it, since it may hint that the identity of His father is questionable.
In Aramaic and Hebrew the terms, brother and sister, are used for cousins and other close relatives as well as real brothers and sisters. As far back as can be traced the Church has held that Jesus was the one and only child of Mary. It was not until relatively modern times that this was even questioned.
The residents of Nazareth could not see past the familiarity to the reality of who Jesus is.
The Greek word used here means a worker in wood but it does not simply mean a joiner of wood but a craftsman.
* 6:4 Jesus uses an adaptation of a common saying that has parallels in both Jewish and Greek literature although they don’t mention prophets specifically.
* 6:5 For Mark, faith was extremely important. When the people lack the faith to ask, even God will do little for them. </font