Fr Vincent's reflections on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021
If you are reading this, I am sure you consider yourself a person of faith, that is, you believe in God and in Jesus Christ. But the Scriptures today challenge us to see that choosing to believe in God does not mean we get to choose what to believe or what to reject. The people of faith in Nazareth rejected Jesus, so the Gospel concludes that they were lacking in faith. So, do we accept all that Jesus teaches and do we act accordingly?
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2021
Read the script:
14th Sunday – Ordinary Time (July 4, 2021)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
R/. And with your spirit.
On this 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, let us pray:
O God, who in the abasement of your Son
have raised up a fallen world,
fill your faithful with holy joy,
for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin
you bestow eternal gladness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is Mark 6:1 - 6.
✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place,
accompanied by his disciples.
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!
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.
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.”
So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there,
apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them.
He was amazed at their lack of faith.
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Sunday Gospel readings continue to invite us to reflect and pray about our faith- relationship to Jesus, to God. I hear a lot of people say “Faith is personal,” and that is true to a degree – it is a personal commitment, but it is not a personal creation.
I choose to believe, that is a fact. No one can force me to believe. That does make faith a personal choice. Likewise, I must make a personal commitment to the faith-relationship I have with God. No one can commit my life to God except me, myself. In fact, when parents commit their infant children in Baptism, they are actually committing to rear their children in the Catholic Faith, but at some point each person, baptized as an infant, must make that personal commitment truly to have faith. So faith is also a person-to-person relationship between each believer and God. In these ways, faith is personal.
However, many individuals take this “personal” dimension of faith and try to claim that what a person believes is also a personal choice, as if I get to pick what I believe and what I don’t believe. Nothing could be further from the truth! Sacred Scripture is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. From the first words of Genesis to the last words of Revelation, the whole of God’s revelation is the content of Christian Faith. And as St. John concludes in his book of Revelation, nothing can be added and nothing can be taken away, (Rev. 22:18-19).
In today’s Gospel reading, the people of Nazareth think that they “know” Jesus and so decide not to accept his message or his actions. These are synagogue-attending Jews, so people who have “faith,” but because they think they can pick and choose what to believe or what to reject, they choose not to be open to Jesus, even if He says and does what only God Himself could do. Our First Reading from the Prophet Ezekiel carries the same complaint by God about the people of Ezekiel’s time – they are stiff-necked and not willing to listen and believe as they should. These are examples of people who make the articles of faith as much a personal choice and the choice to believe itself. Thus, Jesus can do little for the people of Nazareth.
We must accept the same warning for ourselves today. Jesus preached the full truth of God and established the body of Christian beliefs in his teachings. If any Christian thinks he or she can pick and choose what to accept or what to reject of Jesus’s teaching, then that person is not a true Christian. That might sound harsh, but God speaks harshly through Ezekiel, and Jesus acts harshly to the people of Nazareth, leaving them alone for their lack of faith.
When Jesus teaches us to love all people, even our enemies, but I decide whom to love and whom to condemn, just because they think differently than I, am I not the one who is rejecting Jesus? When Jesus teaches us to be obedient children to our Heavenly Father, but I decide when to obey and when to act contrary to God, am I not displaying a lack of commitment to my relationship with God and thereby a failure to be a faithful Christian?
Jesus says it elsewhere in his message: to say I believe is not enough; I must accept all that He teaches and act on those teachings whether I like it or not, whether it is easy or difficult. If I try to define the content of my faith, then I do not have faith at all. We must pray for ourselves to accept fully all that Jesus teaches and live by those teachings each and every day.
And now, the final blessing.
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
May the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.