Fr. Ruben’s Homily for Sunday, July 8, 2018

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 101

Fr. Ruben Villalon-Rivera

Reading 1: Ez. 2:2-5

Responsorial Psalm; Ps. 123:1-2, 2, 3-4

Reading 2: 2 Cor. 12:7-10

Alleluia: CF. Lk. 4:18

Gospel: Mk. 6:1-6

What are the qualities of a good apostle? In a way these qualities are mentioned in the first reading, someone who listens to the Word of God, someone who stands up on his feet ready to go for command and then embraces the mission that he’s sent to do. Ezequiel had these qualities as he went to do God’s will, but he was sent to people that were stubborn, people who rebel not against the prophet, but against God. The mission and ministry of the prophet is to speak out the word of God even if people do not want to hear it. If the qualities of a good apostle are listening, willingness to make a change and then embrace the mission, then what are the qualities of someone who is obstinate of heart? Proud and disobedient resistance to God’s will and rejection of his commands[1]. We read in the book of the prophet Zechariah:

But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears. They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry (Zec. 7:11-12)

Therefore we can say that someone whose heart is stubborn follows these principles:

  • You keep at an idea or plan, or insist on making your point, even when you know you’re wrong.
  • You do something you want to do even if no one else wants to do it.
  • When others present an idea, you tend to point out all the reasons it won’t work.
  • You visibly feel anger, frustration, and impatience when others try to persuade you of something you don’t agree with.
  • You agree to or commit halfheartedly to others’ requests, when you know all along that you’re going to do something entirely different.

Then, what are the practical consequences of stubbornness?

We find many examples in the Holy Scriptures about people whose hearts were hardened.[2] Let’s consider for example the story of one of the most, or the most powerful men of his time told in the book of Exodus:

“When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt” (Ex. 13:15).

In the book of the prophet Nehemiah we also read:

“But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them” (Ne. 9: 16-17).

I have to say that I often consider St. Paul in this category; not that he was, but sometimes is my perception when I heard him say:

“That I, Paul, might not become too elated (stubborn), because of the abundance of the revelations”

When you are at the presence of today’s prophets here are some things to consider:

1.   Seek to understand: in other words, try to listen to what the other person is communicating, rather than shutting down the conversation, and understand their ideas, especially those ideas that make someone turn to God.

2.   Admit when you’re wrong: in the long run, admitting our own mistakes makes us more credible, and when we admit our mistakes we usually learn from them and become better persons.

3.    Be open to new possibilities: we need to be open to explore other possibilities, the possibilities of living in the truth, in communion and union with one another.

Then people from the native Place of Jesus were closed to these principles, they did not wanted to understand who Jesus was, they did not admitted they were wrong, “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary? They were not open to new possibilities, therefore, Jesus “Was not able to perform any mighty deed there”

Thus, we all need to embrace the qualities of a good apostle. Someone who listens to the Word of God, someone who stands up on his feet ready to go, and then embraces the mission that he or she is sent to do. We need to avoid by any means the qualities of those who are stubborn of heart.

[1] Jer. 3: 17, 5:3; 7:24; 9:14 & 18:12; Dt. 9:27; Jdg. 2:19; Ps. 78:8; Isa. 48:4; Hos 4:16; Zec. 7:11-12.

[2] Eph. 4:18; Ex. 13:1533:3Lev. 26:19Job. 20:6-7Ps. 10:4Pr. 1:24-31, 28:14 & 29:1; sudden destruction for the unrepentant; Isa 2:11 a humbling on judgment day; Jer. 5:311:813:10Da. 5:20 King Nebuchadnezzar deposed; Hos. 13:6 The people of Israel forget their God; Zep. 3:11Mk. 6:51-52 Jesus Christ’s disciples amazed; Mt. 18:15-17Ro. 2:5 The self-righteous store up wrath for the day of judgment.