14th Sunday in ordinary time, Year B

Power manifested in weakness

Readings: Ez 2, 2-5; Ps123, 1-2a-2bc.3-4; 2 Cor 12, 7-10; Mk 6, 1-6

The Word of God for us on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time B invites us to contemplate the ways of God that are far different from the human ways. God manifests His power through weakness and weak instruments. We are invited to recognize that there are prophets in our midst even if they remain simple men and women like others. These speak God’s word which calls people to a change of life.

Know that there are prophets in your midst

The Prophet Ezekiel, in the first reading, presents his accreditation as an ambassador of God when he affirms that he is being moved by God’s Spirit. „The Spirit entered into me and set me upon my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.“ The Spirit sets the simple man upon his feet so that he can courageously, without any compromise speak to a rebellious people. One of the characteristics of genuine prophets is that they speak disturbing words. They are not part of the establishment. Instead false prophets are those who speak in order to please. True prophecy will show itself in the encounter with power. The powerful ones of the world fear true prophets. For this reason they choose „house prophets“ who will never question the status-quo. Since many prophets are simple people, they will either be rejected or written off as mad people or be eliminated because they disturb the „established false peace“. Allow one who knows you from inside tell you what you need to change! Unfortunately many lifeless systems are allergic to self-criticism.

My grace is enough for you

Paul recognized his weakness even if he was gifted with many visions and revelations. Luckily enough he was aware of it and accepted it. As a protagonist of evangelization Paul was empowered and sustained by God’s power that worked in him. Many biblical scholars have tried to elucidate Paul’s „thorn in the flesh“ but there seems to be no convincing answer. What is more valuable for us is to consider our own thorn in the flesh. This is all that keeps us from developing spiritual pride. The fact is that people are imperfect in many and various ways but we all know the one thing that causes us unique problems. Identify your weakness: It could be anger. Unforgiveness. Prejudice. Greed. Fear. Or something else known to you alone. The experience of Paul in the second reading teaches us that God seeks to use the very thing that threatens to crush us as an instrument of grace. In this way we get to know how God makes the powerless strong.

Encounter Christ in the humanity around you

A simple carpenter has become a miracle-working prophet! Where did this man get all this? We know him very well. Such sentiments characterized the reaction of the people of Nazareth when they met Jesus. Jesus knew He was taking His place in the long line of prophets in Israel’s history, each one of which was “not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house. The saying: „Familiarity breeds contempt“ became true for the people of Nazareth and Jesus. The people of Nazareth never expected an ordinary person to address the extraordinary problems of their life. One could say that they told Jesus: „Sorry, but you are too human to be of importance to us.“ Through their rejection of Jesus, they presented themselves to be a hard ground for the seed of salvation that Jesus brought. Miracles passed them by as they kept on questioning the source of grace. The invitation for us is to identify the most barren/resistant parts of our lives so that we can keep on tilling them in order to make them ready for God’s transformative word to be planted.

In today’s first reading Ezekiel uses the title „Son of man“ to refer to himself as one of the house of Israel. This is the title that Jesus preferred for Himself (see Mt 8, 20; Mk 2, 10; Lk 5, 24; Jn 3, 13). This was to manifest His solidarity with humanity. The mystery of incarnation (God becoming human) meant that only a human, one like us, living like we do, could take our place in the work of reconciliation between God and man. It is the hardened human heart, full of pride that resists this idea. We ought to acknowledge the basic human tendency to reject salvation through human beings. Jesus of Nazareth is the only way to salvation and the Church (however weak she may be) is the sacrament of the salvation Christ won for us. Those who know our history well can’t imagine that God could be working His miraculous plan of redemption through us. Don’t get overused to those you stay with, or else you may miss the new message which God has for you through them.

Christ became human so that we may appreciate our humanity more as a place of encounter with God. In the first wave of the Covid-19 it almost became a slogan that we are to go through this crisis together. One thought that we had discovered our potential as human beings to stand together. The second wave especially in Uganda is causing a lot of havoc with many deaths and critical cases. The way some people are trying to take advantage of this crisis is really disheartening and scandalous. Did the funds meant for oxygen and oxygen-containers disappear? Is this crisis a chance for private health service providers to become rich through charging their patients exorbitantly? Have some human beings faked the covid-19 vaccines in order to make profit? Do the political decision makers really need so much time to find ways of reaching out to the vulnerable ones? It may be a word through a weak prophet but what is happening degrades humanity. What remains for us all in this time of uncertainty is to acknowledge our weakness and allow God’s power shine through us! We can all be collaborators with God in order to save life.

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