YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: Why are prophets either rejected or embraced nowadays?
BY: Rev. Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
HOMILY: Today’s Gospel passage (Mark 6:1-6) contains the story of Jesus’ rejection by his people. The reason behind his rejection is not surprising: it is because of their familiarity with Jesus. According to St. Mark, despite Jesus’ miracles and teaching, his mission to his people was a failure because those who heard him did not go past the obvious human truths about him: there was nothing glorious about his family. He was only a poor carpenter’s son, he was Mary’s son, and they knew his brothers and sisters. Eventually, this familiarity would lead to his death.
Jesus’ experience of rejection by his people exemplifies the adage that “familiarity breeds contempt.” Or as he himself puts it, “Nemo propheta in patria” – “no man is a prophet in his own land” (Mark 6:4). That is, no prophet is entirely accepted by the people who are so familiar with him. Today, familiarity continues to be a hurdle for prophets. I’m talking about someone who speaks for God, foretells the future, and tells the truth. Our relativistic worldview, on the other hand, is the primary reason prophets are either accepted or rejected in today’s world.
Consider the stunning and powerful homily delivered by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, on Monday, April 18, 2005, the day before he was elected Pope Benedict XVI. He stated: “Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.” His exhortation remains as relevant today as it was then, perhaps even more so in these days when prophets appear to be embraced or rejected based on “how they make one feel” or their ideological or political affiliations.
Have you ever heard someone remark, “I’m not a fan of him because he’s too far to the right or left”? People nowadays shop around at different churches or parishes looking for preachers whose political, ideological, and moral views are similar to their own. He who speaks for God through the ministry of the Church “…must not lower the standards of his message to the level of his own personal witness, fearing that he will be accused of not practicing what he preaches. Since he is preaching not himself but Christ, he can, without hypocrisy, point out the heights of sanctity, to which, like every other individual, in his pilgrim faith, he is aspiring” (Homiletic Directory, 7).
The truth should be accepted regardless of who speaks it. However, relativism can make it difficult for some people to open their minds to receive the message of God. Jesus’ people couldn’t get to accept that this poor son of a carpenter was actually the Son of God.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Son of God, the true man, is the standard by which we assess true humanity. Let us pray for “adult faith” in this Mass, a faith that transcends ideological, political, and moral affiliations. Adult faith is founded on a friendship with Christ. This friendship opens us up to all that is good and provides us with a standard for distinguishing the true from the false and deception from the truth.