Sunday, 4 July 2021 : Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday we are presented with the sad and unfortunate reality of how the people rejected those whom the Lord had sent to them, and refused to believe in them and in the message of truth and revelation which God has given them through those servants. This is all because of our stubbornness and our lack of faith and trust in the Lord, as we often trust more in our own abilities and we discriminate others based on our prejudices and biases.

In our first reading today we heard about the Lord sending Ezekiel to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon, to be His prophet and messenger among them. At that time, the people of Israel had been scattered in faraway lands, as the northern kingdom of Israel, composed of most of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel had been crushed and conquered by the Assyrians over a century before the time of Ezekiel, and most of the people had been brought to exile. Then, the Babylonians in turn subjugated the southern kingdom of Judah and brought many of its people into exile as well.

Thus, it was to this people that the Lord had sent Ezekiel to be His mouthpiece among them, to be the one to bring His message of truth to them and to call them to repentance and to turn away from their sinful and wicked ways. It was because of their many sins and refusals to obey the Lord that they had fallen from grace, and the glory of the old kingdom of David and Solomon had faded and gone from them. In a short time after God sent Ezekiel to the exiles in Babylon, the rest of Judah and the city of Jerusalem itself would be destroyed, and the remaining people brought to exile as well.

The sins of the people separated them from God, and without God, as they stood alone on their own, they faltered and failed, fell and became disgrace among the nations. Yet, we can see that the Lord still cared for them and did not forget about them. He could have destroyed and annihilated them easily, or abandoned them forever and chose other people to be His own people, but He still patiently sought them out, called them and sent prophets one after another to them, through the days of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and up to that time, the prophet Ezekiel.

Many of those prophets were rejected and ridiculed, and not few among them were made to suffer and even were killed for their works and faith in the Lord. The prophets laboured hard for the sake of the Lord and His people, and many gave their all to glorify the Lord and to bring His people to salvation. They endured all sorts of trials and troubles, sacrificing their time and many other things in following God’s call. But the people often still hardened their hearts against the Lord and refused to believe in Him.

The same thing happened to the Lord as we heard in our Gospel passage today, as we heard how He was rejected in Nazareth, in His own village and hometown. The people of Nazareth publicly doubted and questioned the Lord and His authority and authenticity when He came to His own town, teaching and preaching among them. This despite Nazareth itself being not far from the region around the Lake of Galilee where the Lord had performed many miracles and works.

Why did the people of Nazareth reject the Lord? That is because many of them were prejudiced against Him, thinking that they knew better than Him and they saw Him as an unworthy upstart, as the mere Son of the village carpenter, St. Joseph, His foster-father. No one in Nazareth beyond His immediate family knew the Lord’s true identity, and this is why everyone thought of the Lord as a fraud, and someone who was just the Son of a carpenter could not have gained such wisdom or taught with such authority. It was simply impossible in their minds.

That was why they refused to acknowledge the Lord and His truth, and they questioned and doubted Him, looking down on Him despite everything that they had heard and seen. They refused to open their hearts and minds to welcome Him inside, and kept Him out of their minds. And before we ourselves look down on them, let us remind ourselves that we have often done the same in our own lives, in each and every moments of our existence.

We should ask ourselves how often is it that the Lord had called us to follow Him and yet we hesitated and refused to listen to Him. And even though He has patiently reached out to us via various means, we still continued to harden our hearts and minds, and are stubborn in adhering to our old ways and paths, in opposition to God, in how we have been selfish and mean to others, in loving ourselves more than we love God and our fellow brothers and sisters, in indulging our various pleasures and pursuits in life, among others.

Therefore, as we listened and are reminded by this Sunday’s Scripture readings, we are all called as Christians to be humble and to be willing to open our hearts and minds to the Lord. And we can do this best by spending more quality time with the Lord, especially through prayer. Unfortunately, this is where many of us are falling short, as we do not regularly pray to the Lord, or when we pray, we do not pray in the right way. Prayer is not the same as asking God to do things on our behalf or to fulfil our desires and whatever we wanted. It is not about asking God to miraculously solve our problems and other things that we often did in our prayers.

Instead, we should be willing to listen to the Lord and learn to listen to Him more. We should open our hearts and minds, and allow Him to speak to us in the depth of our souls, that we may know His will more and be more attuned to Him in our lives and actions. This is what we are all challenged to do as Christians, to be ever more genuine in the way we live our lives with faith in God, and to devote our time and effort to glorify the Lord at all times. We should allow the Lord to lead us and guide our path in life.

And lastly, may all of us also be the beacons of God’s light and truth in this darkened world today. Like the prophets and the servants of the Lord whom He had sent into our midst, we should also follow in their footsteps and be inspired by their faith and dedication, as well as by their enduring love for God. Are we willing and able to do so, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to love the Lord more and to put our trust in Him, that we will always follow Him and obey His Law and precepts, in each and every moments? May God be with us all and may He bless us always in our every good efforts and endeavours. Amen.

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