14th Sunday – Ordinary Time. The Power of God in the Weak Messengers

Mark 6:1-6

Jesus went to his home town and his disciples accompanied him. With the coming of the sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue and most of them were astonished when they heard him. They said, ‘Where did the man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted him, and these miracles that are worked through him? This is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Josef and Jude and Simon? His sisters, too, are they not here with us?’ And they would not accept him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised- in his own country among his own relations and in his own house’; and he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

Reflection, by Fr Aldo, sx

There is a story about a travelling circus that was in the outskirts of a village. One evening a fire broke out and there was a danger that the fire would spread through the dry fields and burn the whole village. The circus manager looked for someone to send and warn the villagers, but found nobody, except the clown who was already made-up for his act.

The clown hurried to the village and begged the people to come and help to put out the fire at the circus and also to save themselves from having everything burnt. But the people just laughed at him thinking that it was just a trick from the management so to advertise the circus. The more the clown tried to look serious, the more people laughed.  Later, the fire indeed spread out and the entire village was turned into ashes.

The reason why the villagers could not hear the message was that they looked at the man as a clown and this made it impossible for them to hear the truth of what he was saying.

In the Gospel of today we see that Jesus was amazed at the unbelief of those people from his own town. They could not believe that one of their own can reveal God. And so they questioned:  “Is not this the son of Mary… and are not his sisters here with us?”  They know him, therefore he cannot tell them anything new.

There is a document produced by the Latin American Church back in the late 70s called Puebla that emphasizes the “evangelizing potential of the poor.” Even though that is true, many who are like the countrymen of Jesus say: “Are not these farmers, people who not even know how to speak… What can these lazy people who spend more time complaining than working tell us? We know them, so we cannot expect anything from them.

Dear friend, if you happen to engaged in the work of evangelization, I would like to remind you that the quality of the Gospel proclamation cannot be measured by its immediate acceptance, but by the fidelity and perseverance of those sent in mission. The weakness of those sent reveals the power of the Spirit present in them.  In this way God invites people, but does not crush anyone with his power. The human weakness of those sent creates a space for freedom; their listener may decide for or against them. Many people would prefer that the Lord revealed himself through great signs and miracles; this would save them the trouble of discerning when and through whom the word is revealed.

For those who are sent, this “thorn in the flesh” is not easy. Often we get hurt when the testimony we are trying to give is not understood. Yet this helps to return humbly to the sources of the entrusted task, to purify and correct the motives of our actions. As St. Paul would tell us, it is when we appear weak that we are strong.

References:

Gerry Pierse. Sundays Into Silence. Claretian Publications, 1998.

Gustavo Gutierrez. Sharing the Word. Claretian Publications, 1995.

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