The Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 8, 2018
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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In the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus encounters his own people’s lack of faith: “He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mk 6:6), as their unbelief prevented him from performing any mighty deed in his native place (cf. Mk 6:5). Without faith, God cannot intervene in human life. We live in a time when a profound crisis of faith has affected many people.

In another passage, Jesus mysteriously warns of the terrible possibility that faith could disappear off the face of the earth:  “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (Lk 18:8).

Today’s first reading tells us about resistance to God from the people of God, who were “hard of face and obstinate of heart” (Ez 2:4). God tells the prophet Ezekiel: “I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me” (Ez 2:3). The rejection and abandonment of the true God for idolatry to false gods occur many times throughout history. Instead of converting to God, we convert to the world. Worldliness is a constant threat to Christian life.

Despite the people’s resistance, God perseveres and sends them a prophet to return them to him. Our Lord still has hope for us. He wants to conquer our resistance to believing in him.

Lack of faith means that we fail to perceive the origin of reality. In the synagogue of Nazareth, people were saying: “Where did this man get all this?” (Mk 6:2). Their initial astonishment at the authority and originality of Jesus’ teaching is dulled by prejudice. They cannot accept that God could be so familiar. They think they know what God can and cannot do. They see Jesus’ wisdom and mighty deeds but, at the same time, deny them because no one from their town could possibly be a prophet of God. They do not venture further than what they think they already know. Beyond the visible is a much greater reality. Faith is dynamic and challenges us to venture beyond what the eyes can see.

Contemporary culture fails to acknowledge that reality is rooted in the mystery of God, who is present in all things, and rejects  the idea of God as the Creator. A man who does not believe in God is greatly impoverished. When God disappears from the human horizon, tragic consequences ensue.

During the darkest moments of Church history, many saints contributed to the renewal of Christian life through their witness. In today’s second reading, Saint Paul speaks about a “thorn in the flesh.” Some authors identify this “thorn” as the hostility coming from the community. Like Ezekiel, the apostle suffered rejection. Despite the Corinthians’ lack of faith, Saint Paul grew in his own experience of faith. Our Lord tells him: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 2:9).

Although we are living amidst a profound crisis of faith,  we believe that the Holy Spirit shall not abandon his Church. Today, as in the past, we can find people who live by faith. Even if we cannot identify them easily, we can always found our faith on the memory of the saints, men and women who lived their faith in a heroic way, as recognized by the authority of the Church.

Let us pray that Jesus will not be amazed at our lack of faith. May Our Lady, the perfect embodiment of faith, come to our aid. May she teach us how to believe in God as she believed.  Amen.

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