FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR THE 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: AND THEY WOULD NOT ACCEPT HIM!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: *Ezek 2: 2-5, 2 Cor 12: 7-10, Mk 6:1-6.
The whole question of salvation and the whole issue about success/ failure of the gospel mission is factorized on one word: ‘acceptance’. John’s gospel puts it succinctly: ‘He came to his own & his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, Jn 1:12. St Paul articulates this beautiful argument about the organigram of salvation as follows: ‘If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord…you are saved…since all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved, Act 2:21. How can they call..if they don’t believe? How can they believe if they’ve not heard of him? How…if no preacher has been sent? How beautiful are the feet of the messengers of good news!’, Rom 10 : 9-15.
I am happy to preach this message today when Senior Seminarians are being sent out to different parishes in several dioceses of Nigeria for the 6 weeks apostolic work. They are the most current messengers of good news sent by God to us. Whenever we reject the prophets of God, for whatever reason, we lose the blessings of God and also stand a chance of incuring a curse on our heads.
B. CAUSES OF REBELLION AGAINST THE PROPHETS
The 1st reading is a warning against rebels. The Lord tells Ezekiel : ‘Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to the rebels who have turned against me….Whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a Prophet among them’. What are the causes of rebellion against the preachers / prophets of God? From today’s gospel we find out that the Nazarene rejection of Jesus as a Prophet and indeed the rejection of prophets all over the world is predicated on these 4 or more variables:
1. Ancestral factors: ‘Till now they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me’, Ezek 2:2-3, Ps 95:9. Sometimes we manifest the spirit of stubbornness deep seated in our ancestral lineage.
2. The Carpenter’s son syndrome: Jesus moved from the Carpenter’s shade to Jordan. After his baptism Nazareth could have been his 1st parish center but his people would not accept him just because they knew who his father was.
3. Familiarity complex: They said: ‘ Where did this man get all these…? This is the carpenter, surely, son of Mary, the brothers of James, Josef, etc, Mk 6:1-6. Sometimes our familiarity with a man of God makes us neglect his message.
4. Gossip complex : Even those who had not encountered Jesus one on one rejected him on the strength of what they heard about him. Many priests and bishops today have been rejected after their posting even before coming to take ‘Canonical possession’ of their Parish/Diocese just because of the power of gossip – somebody has told them something negative about them.
C. THE ‘TORN IN THE FLESH’ OF THE PROPHET
Please, never mind the human weaknesses of a prophet because God will use him inspite of them. Every man of God has his ‘thorn in the flesh’. In the 2nd reading St Paul says: ‘To stop me from being too proud I was given a thorn in the flesh’.
Exegetes imagine this to be: (I) Carnal temptations, (ii) Persecutions, (iii) Physical ailments or sicknesses like severe headache, fever, eye trouble, or even disfigurement, (iv) Psychological rejection by others because of colour, race, nationality, temperament, etc.
All these are normal difficulties and weaknesses that accompany every man of God but they are also symbols of divine presence in the man of God because His power manifests more in our weaknesses, 2 Cor 12: 7-10. Therefore, don’t neglect the preacher/ prophet/ man of God because of his human weaknesses; let the sufficiency of Jesus fill his insufficiency.
Many have lost their opportunities of blessings from their day to day encounter with men of God due to their knowledge of his weaknesses, parental background, familiarity with the man of God or because of what some gossipers have told them about him. Success in life depends not so much on what we do but on what we allow God to do through us. This is what we call faith. We should never reject the people God has sent as destiny helpers to guide us on our journey of salvation, whether as our Parish Priests, teachers or Catechetical instructors. Happy Sunday beloved friends!
FR BEN AGBO