For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser. ‘
At a conference I attended several years ago one of the speakers began his talk (to a group of peers) by saying: “An expert is someone who comes from at least twenty-five miles away and carries a briefcase. I am not an expert, I am one of you. ” I suspect the speaker began this way both to disarm us and to challenge us to be open to what he had to say. He realized that sometimes it is hard to be taken seriously by a group of peers. Our peers know us. They know our faults and failings. They are familiar with us. We are a recognized commodity.
A situation similar to the above occurred in our Gospel for this weekend. Jesus had returned to his “native place, accompanied by his disciples.” When he began to teach in the synagogue those who heard him were astonished. “They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given to him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! 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?”
While the people in this Gospel did know Jesus, they stopped at the point of familiarity. They made the mistake of thinking they knew all there was to know. Because of his wisdom and by the mighty deeds wrought by his hands, though, they should have realized there was more to Jesus. Unfortunately they were too caught up in their own way of thinking and looking at things.
Our first reading this weekend relates the call of Ezekiel to be a prophet. He has been sent to the Israelites, a people who are “hard of face and obstinate of heart.” This reading shares the same theme as the Gospel. It reminds us that sometimes our pre-conceived ideas of the ways and work of God can blind us to new realities.
In our second reading this weekend from the Second Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul talks about being given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from becoming too proud and to remind him that God’s grace was enough for him. This is a lesson I have learned and then had to re-learn several times in my life.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
- Has there been a time when--only in retrospect--you recognized the presence and/or power of God in your life?
- Have you ever been “hard of face” and “obstinate of heart” with God?
- Have there been times when you have discovered that God’s grace is enough for you?