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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time — July 4, 2021

Bishop’s Reflections

July 4, 2021

Every Sunday, Bishop Edward Malesic writes a Scripture reflection for the faithful. Follow the bishop on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Click HERE for the readings.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time — July 4, 2021

It is obvious that the people in today’s Gospel story were trying to comprehend Jesus. Who was he? He was the carpenter, Mary’s son. He had relatives who were known to the community, but he was somehow different. He was a great teacher, wise and had the ability to do “mighty deeds.” They wondered, “Where did this man get all this?”

In the end, so many of his own took offense at him. Why? We hear the answer that comes from Jesus Himself, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”

Familiarity, as they say, breeds contempt.

People could not accept that among their own came a savior. They believed that a savior should come from somewhere else, from a people who are much more glorious and glamorous than from among the simple townsfolk of Nazareth. He should come riding in power and strength. Yet, God often comes to us in surprising ways, through unassuming people, from places nearer to us than we would sometimes imagine. He even comes to us in our weakness, as St. Paul said, “for power is made perfect in weakness.” God works among all people despite our human frailties.

Where else do we find Jesus? We find him in the poor. For some people that might be offensive, but not for us. For us, it is the truth of our religion. God is found even in the poverty of a lowly stable in Bethlehem.

Jesus comes to us as an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes. There is no glory in that — and yet we celebrate the fact of the birth of Jesus in a humble stable every Christmas.

Jesus also comes to us in the spoken word of the Gospel; simple words, really, with the power to change lives.

Jesus comes under the signs of bread and wine — and yet, those simple everyday substances, when consecrated by a priest, are transubstantiated into the person of Jesus Christ that they signify. Bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ — and, yes, there are those who take offense at our Catholic belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. So be it.

In all of the above examples, and more, we must find Christ in the common things of everyday life. And if we have faith, Jesus can work miracles among us and for us. And if we lack faith, if it is all too unspectacular for us, then he can cure very few of us because of our lack of faith in the Christ who became one of us.

So once again, the Gospel of Mark is asking us to have faith and to find the Lord Jesus in all the daily events of our ordinary lives. Ultimately, the Gospel of Mark will have us find the true identity of Jesus on the cross. He is the suffering servant who has come to lift us up, buy us back for God by shedding his blood, and save us from the great enemies of sin and death. How scandalous that we have a God who died on the cross — and yet, how central that fact is to our faith in him.

The Gospel reminds us to once again have faith in the God who lives, walks, teaches, and works among us.

Happy Fourth of July everyone. May the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedom never be lost on us. May we continue to protect our freedom, especially our freedom to worship our God in our churches and to practice our faith in public.

Have a great week and God bless you and those you love.

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