Facing Life’s Challenges In Faith

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

The readings today bring beautiful and important situations we may consider:

a) In the first reading, God says to Ezekiel: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me…. whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them” (Ez 2:2-5). The Israelites underwent a crisis of faith which they could not control mainly because they were looking at and admiring the way of life and worship of their neighboring nations. So the Lord always had to put them to the test.

b) In the Gospel, Jesus tells the Jews: A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Mk 6:4). The Jews, residents of Nazareth and fellow countrymen of Jesus, were experiencing a deeper crisis of faith when Jesus appeared and became too much for them. They could not believe that someone could be better than they were, and that Jesus was talking with authority. They refused to listen, to believe and to love their own. The Jews were very jealous that they even had to refer to Him as “this man,” “the carpenter” and “son of Mary.”

c) In the second reading, the Lord tells Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Paul also underwent a crisis, but a crisis that led him to accept Jesus to be the power of, in and behind his preaching, and the grace of God the moving factor of his life. In his weakness the power of God would be made manifest, the Kingdom of God realized, and God’s Will done on earth as in heaven. Paul’s grace was to suffer for the Kingdom of God.

The greatest critics in our life are the ones closest to us: our family, relatives, neighbors, people we relate with almost every day. Jealousy and violent reactions happen because of a relationship that is selfish. We do not want somebody to be better than us. We want to manipulate everyone according to our standard. We cannot accept a person as he is.

This is one big crisis that we experience. Many times we cannot accept Jesus because we want Him to be and to do things according to our desires and standard. We want Him to turn around when we do something wrong, especially our favorite sins. We want Him to see us when we do something good. It’s hard for us to be open because we do not want to expose our weaknesses and our sins even to God.

We are asked to pray and be watchful against attitudes that are against the examples and commands of Jesus. In Jesus, who is the Savior of the world and King of all, we cannot remain possessively selfish and proud egoists; neither can we keep our minds and hearts so small for the love of God. God gave us a big heart enough to accept Him and His Kingdom.

It takes a great amount of humility and knowledge of self to know and accept Jesus. It is easy to fall into the trap of being like the unbelieving Jews. We are so distracted with many philosophies, with our own ideas and with products media bring to us. Remember that humility has a root word in Latin that means earth or soil. If we disregard our origin that from dust we came and to dust we shall return, knowledge of Jesus, who is divine yet became human for our salvation, will only be superficial, and knowledge and love of our neighbor will also be foreign to us. As Jesus and neighbor can be one, we can also ask the same similar selfish questions: who is this that comes into my life? Where did he get his wisdom and style? Thus, to know Jesus and to love Him just as we love our neighbor is to know self and realize our origin and our destination.

Mary also underwent a crisis in accepting her motherhood of Jesus, who became for us the Eucharist that we now celebrate, but she left everything in the hands of God and proclaimed: be it done to me according to your word. Before Holy Communion we humbly pray, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Let us ask Jesus and Mary to give us the courage and fortitude to face life’s challenges. With these gifts of courage and fortitude we can be faithful to the commands of God, for only Jesus can turn our crises into opportunities of life and joy, and with Him we can make a big difference in this world for the Glory of God and for the good of his people.

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