Catholic Mass Readings and Reflection July 07, 2024


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R/. Our eyes are on the Lord our God, till he show us his mercy.

V/. Alleluia

R/. Alleluia

V/. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.

R/. Alleluia.

At that time: Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offence at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

1. In the gospel text today from Mark 6. 1-6, we see what lack of faith does not and cannot do. In fact, in the just preceding section, in Mark 5. 21-43, we had seen what faith can do and did in the context of the raising to life of a ruler’s daughter and the healing of a woman with haemorrhage. In contrast to their praiseworthy faith, today we have a context that is blameworthy.

2. This is seen in Jesus’ own people, in his own place. They marvel at Jesus’ teaching and preaching with wisdom and power. They are astonished at his startling miracles, which are not humanly possible . But they are not ready to accept him or appreciate him. Because, after all, he is from among them, he is one of them. They know him and his family from years. He is no big man or rich man. He has no commanding social status. He has no religious or legal authority because he is no one in any official position.

3. Then, how can he excel that way? How can he command or demand them? How can he challenge and correct them? Who is he to admonish and guide them? What he thinks of himself when he explains and interprets the scriptures and traditions to the masters and experts themselves?

4. The whole problem is their shortsightedness, their narrowed down perspectives,  their shrunken hearts. These people are not able to rise above their narrow confines of territory and blood relationship. They see Jesus just as one of them and nothing more. They do not recognize the divinity in him. They cannot think of something beyond their human considerations and judgments. They are caught up within their human and cultural prejudices.

5. Thus, his own people fail to believe in him and fail to accept him. They reject him. They hate him. They oppose him and turn hostile to him. This is really very sad. They do not realize the gravity of their sin. They do not realize that in rejecting Jesus, they are rejecting God’s own grace. They place themselves opposed to God Himself. Thereby, they lose God’s own grace offered through Jesus. This is what grieves Jesus.

6. The words of God in the first reading through prophet Ezekiel are very true in these people’s case. They are really a nation of rebels, a rebellious house. They are impudent and stubborn. Just as they refuse to listen to the prophets of the old, Jesus’ people too do not listen to him. Just as they rejected, persecuted and even killed some of them, so also they do the same to Jesus.

7. This is what comes clear in the second reading from 2 Corinthians 12. 7-10. Paul describes the list of the difficulties that he faces because of his loyalty to Christ. He accepts willingly, courageously and joyfully weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities, all for the sake of his Master. He does not lament over them. Rather, he feels great and proud of them. Because, it is the best way to share the life and mission of his Master. The Master also underwent the same road of suffering.

8. Today, we have very important guidance in the light of today’s word of God. On one hand, from the unbelieving Jews, we can learn how we should not be. And, on the other hand, from Ezekiel, Paul and Jesus himself, learn how we should be.

9. Just as in the case of the stubborn people, the same danger of unbelief is ever real in our case as well. We too may grow so familiar with God’s grace that we take it for granted. We may lose the sense of the sacred. Therefore, it is high time that we open our inner eyes, broaden our perspectives, heighten our lowered considerations, elevate our earth-bound judgments.

10. Then, like Jesus, Paul and all the prophets, never lose heart when we do not meet with success in our ministry. Never grow tired of doing good. Never feel annoyed or infuriated when all our best efforts bear no fruit but encounter only opposition. Never be shaken in faith that God is not providing you the necessary graces.

11. In that context, remember the spirit of the prophets and Jesus, a spirit of unswerving focus,  determination, and dutifulness irrespective of the results. Recall to mind the assuring words of God in the second reading: “My grace is sufficient for you. When I am weak, then I am strong”.

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