Pastoral Sharings: "Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessage Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS 
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Posted for July 5, 2015

After his Baptism in the Jordan and fasting in the desert 
Jesus returned to Galilee to preach the Good News of the 
Gospel to the people of his own locality. He based himself 
in Capernaum which is a bigger town about twenty or so 
miles away from Nazareth.

It did not take too long for stories of his preaching and miracles to reach his home town. After touring some of the surrounding villages Jesus eventually ends up in his own native place where he stands up to speak in the synagogue. This was something quite normal for an adult male to do especially on his return home after having had some experience of the wider world.

We can imagine that there was some expectation as to what he would say in the synagogue after his absence of several months during which time the local inhabitants had heard numerous stories about him.

Alone among the Synoptic Gospels it is St Luke who says that in the synagogue Jesus quotes the prophecy of Isaiah concluding with the words, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ This incurs the ire of the people and shortly afterwards they drive him out of the town.

Here Mark says nothing about the content of his teaching but only gives the reaction of the people to it. As in Luke, at first they are astonished at the sublime words coming from his lips but then on reflection they choose to reject him.

These people had seen Jesus grow up in their midst and they obviously found it difficult to accept that this person they thought they knew had changed so much. Maybe there was also an element of envy leading them to think that Jesus had somehow got above himself.

The people say that they know his mother and his brothers and sisters and give this as the reason for rejecting him. This is surely a case of those who knew him best actually understanding him the least.

It is curious that they are at first attracted by his message but then reject him on the grounds that they know him. This seems a very flimsy reason indeed but we know that people are generally quite fickle and don’t need much encouragement to take a stand against something. They are probably living quite shallow lives and don’t want to be lifted up and challenged to live a more noble life.

It says in the text that Jesus does heal a few people in Nazareth but very soon he leaves the town saying that, ‘A prophet is despised only in his own country.’

It is interesting that the townsfolk mention that they know Jesus’ mother and not his father; this surely means that St Joseph must have died by this time. The references they make to the brothers and sisters of Jesus are generally interpreted by Catholic scholars as referring to his cousins. They take quite a wide view of the terms brother and sister.

However, Protestant scholars, who do not accept the virginity of Mary, tend to take these references to brothers and sisters rather literally. But, of course, we know that in the ancient world families were quite extended and it was common enough for cousins to live next door to each other or even in the same house.

This rejection by the people of Nazareth is only the first of many other rejections that Jesus is to face. Ultimately, of course, he will face the greatest rejection of them all when the authorities will put him on trial and sentence him to death on the Cross.

This final rejection will, however, be overturned and Christ will victoriously rise from the dead and bring with him into heaven all of those who embrace his Gospel of peace. We know the story of Jesus and we know that rejection is turned into vindication, loss into gain, disaster into triumph.

Every human being is presented with the same choice that those people of Nazareth faced, either to accept or reject Jesus. Once we hear his message we have to choose whether to believe it or not.

Often enough people decide to reject the Gospel. However, like the citizens of Nazareth the people of today often dress up their rejection; they give one insubstantial reason or another for their refusal to believe.

Those Nazarenes said: we have known him for years, we used to change his nappies; therefore he is essentially one of us which means we cannot accept him as a great teacher or miracle worker.

In the modern world we might say that science has now solved all the important the questions of life and we do not need to listen to a preacher whose message is already 2,000 years old.

Or we might only hear some of his words and turn-away bored, and ignore the substance of his message. Or we might choose to misunderstand his words and reject them because we do not know what he is talking about.

There are lots of reactions that we could take towards Jesus but they all end up being either acceptance or rejection.

The Good News is that we are gathered here in this Church because we have heard the Word of God and believe it. We have decided to listen to Jesus’ words of life. We have chosen to reject our sins and to embrace the Gospel of love.

Although in today’s Gospel reading we hear about his own people who refused to listen to him we also know that there were many others, like ourselves, who actually did accept Jesus and his message.

We think of the shepherds present at his birth, the wise men from the east, the Apostles, as well as sinners like Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, the Woman of Samaria, the Good Thief and so on.

We also think of some people who were in positions of power like the Centurion, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.

But most of all we think of the poor and the lowly, the downtrodden and the oppressed, the weak and the simple; these people accepted Jesus eagerly and knew that he had come with a real message of hope and reassurance.

We ought to class ourselves with all these people who embraced the Gospel and do our level best to live out in our lives the values Christ presents to us. We earnestly seek salvation and we know that it is only to be found in Jesus, the one true Savior of the World; to him be glory for ever and ever.

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
July 5, 2015

Fourteenth Sunday: Power Made Perfect In Weakness

The second reading for today is written by a troubled man.  The reading itself is troubling for us.  In St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, he writes about a thorn in the flesh that he suffered from.  Three times he begged the Lord to remove this from Him.  But all he heard was the Lord saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  What was it that was upsetting St. Paul so much?  People have speculated over the years, but we have no way of knowing.  Whatever it was, it was significant for Paul.  It could not have been something as minor as a speech impediment as  some have speculated.  Nor could it have been his caustic temper.  It was something far more personal and even more severe.  It probably kept him awake at night.

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 6: 1–6.

Gospel Summary

It is really sad to note the attitude of Jesus’ home town to their suddenly famous neighbor. On the surface, it is the usual story of how familiarity can breed contempt. They know how “ordinary” Jesus has been and they cannot allow him now to represent a world that is so much larger than their own little town. This is a strange mixture of pride and envy, with the latter seeming to take hold at Nazareth.

The tragic consequence of their refusal to abandon their provincial narrowness is that Jesus “was not able to perform any mighty deeds there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Jesus could not work more miracles there because they would not permit it! They could not open themselves to a world beyond their own safe little village. Of course, this new world that Jesus has entered is not just the world beyond Nazareth; it is the world beyond this world!

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B—July 5, 2015

Jesus drew large crowds as He preached throughout Galilee, healing many who sought His help. What was the reception when He visited His hometown?

Gospel (Read Mk 6:1-6a)

St. Mark tells us that early in Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, He visited His “native place.” Everywhere He went, He left a trail of “utterly astounded” people (see Mk 5:42). However, when He arrived at the synagogue in Nazareth, the reception was decidedly different. His preaching “astonished” those gathered, but their amazement moved in a surprising direction. “Where did this man get all this?” They were not impressed that one of their own had great wisdom and wrought “mighty deeds.” No, they were skeptical that someone they knew so well, someone whose whole family was well known to them, could suddenly show up and claim to be Somebody. In fact, His remarkable change from being simply “the carpenter” to a miracle-working prophet was just too much for them.

God’s Glory as the Source and Sustainer of Life

‘In Him, we live and move and have our being.’

So St. Luke declares in Acts 17:28. In context, it’s clear the gospel writer is referring not only to all mankind but the whole of creation:

The God who made the world and all that is in it, the Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything. Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions (verses 24-26, NAB, Rev. Ed., unless otherwise noted).

Fifteen Ways Christ Suffered in Love

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen comments on the many names and titles that we can give for Jesus.  Jesus might be called the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Bread of Life and the Living Water. He also might be called the Lamb of God, the Alpha and Omega, as well as the Good Shepherd.  However, the Name that most perfectly exemplifies the purpose of Jesus’s coming and the purpose of His death and Resurrection is that of SAVIOR! Jesus’ mission was to save all of humanity, as well as our individual immortal souls from the clasp of the devil and the fiery pit of hell!

I Believe in Life

I am for our children born and unborn. That means giving love and nurture to them and providing environments where they can thrive and rise to their full potential. I believe we must call out the cultural bigotry that does not view unborn children as part of the human family deserving equal care and protection. I must decry the evil of abortion and governments that pay for it with your tax dollars and mine.

I stand for good prenatal and post-natal care, clean drinking water and nutritious food and quality education and medical care for every child. I believe that children with disabilities must be included as indispensable members of our communities.

Eight Beatitudes to Foster Love in the Home

Two things in particular must be nurtured in the home: love and self-sacrifice. Sincere parental love makes the child home-centered and gives security, purpose, and direction to young lives. Self-sacrifice, demanded by discipline, remains the basis of order in the home. Firm parental discipline frees a child from his own confusion. It places the parents in their rightful place in the home. It sets the rules of family life and teaches re­spect for authority. If a child learns obedience early in life, he will extend that obedience to his teachers, and to wider au­thority as he matures.

Pope tells parents to be mindful of children’s suffering

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The deep hurts that spouses inflict on each other cause great suffering to their children and, in some cases, lead to a separation that is “morally necessary” to protect spouses and children from more serious forms of violence, Pope Francis said during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square June 24.

Continuing a series of talks about the family, the pope reflected on the hurts family members cause each other, calling this type of behavior “the ugliest thing.”

The pope said every family has experienced moments when someone’s “words, acts and omissions” offend another and “rather than expressing love, diminish it or worse still, demean it.”

Fix Me, Jesus; Fix Me – Three Reasons Why Even Our Spiritual Life Needs Fixing

When I was a good bit younger, in college actually, I had to take a few economics and marketing courses. At that time I thought to myself, “God has a bad marketing department,” since things like Scripture and prayer were often so difficult to understand and do. God seemed to insist that we pray, but everyone I ever asked admitted that prayer was difficult. And while many had reasons they offered as to why prayer was difficult, I still wondered why, if God could just zap prayer and make it delightful, He didn’t just do so. “Yes,” I thought, “God has a bad marketing plan!”

In Times Like These – A Scriptural Guide for Troubled and Confused Times

There’s an old hymn that says, “In times like these, you need a Savior, in times like these, you need an anchor. Be very sure, be very sure, Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.”

And indeed, there are very few faithful Catholics who are not astonished and dismayed at the rapidity of decline into confusion (sexual and otherwise) of a culture we once described as Judeo-Christian. Whatever our sectarian differences of the past (and honestly they were significant and embarrassingly many), there was at least a basic agreement on the fundamentals of biblical morality and the authority of the Word of God. Most of this is gone—and it has gone quickly.

Love Wins When Freedom Is Used To Love God Above All

Two years before he was elected Pope, John Paul II was invited to give a homily at the International Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia. He preached at a Mass on August 3, 1976 on the topic of “The Eucharist and Man’s Hunger for Freedom.”

It was a fitting theme for his homily, as the United States of America recently celebrated the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. John Paul II (Cardinal Karol Wojtyła at the time), was well aware of the significance and sought to clarify for those present what was true freedom.

Let’s Fall in Love

Some things make you feel just a little more alive.

Hearing a moving song. Helping someone in need. Reading words that make you cry. Seeing a sunset splash the sky with breath-taking colors.

And the feeling is multiplied immeasurably if you are sharing those experiences with someone special.

Indeed, love completes us as human beings.

We’ve Been Here Before: Marriage and the Room of Tears

Just last week, I had the privilege of spending four hours in the Sistine Chapel with my Word on Fire team. Toward the end of our filming, the director of the Vatican Museums, who had accompanied us throughout the process, asked whether I wanted to see the “Room of Tears.” This is the little antechamber, just off of the Sistine Chapel, where the newly-elected Pope repairs in order to change into his white cassock. Understandably, tears begin to flow in that room, once the poor man realizes the weight of his office.

6 Things You Need for Prayer

Finding God through Meditation, by St. Peter of Alcantara, brings the wisdom of the great saint into your hands. St. Peter directed St. Teresa of Avila on difficult questions she had about prayer and she turned to this work for guidance.

I’ll be sharing excerpts from the book here, in the hope that you’ll be inspired to spend time prayerfully reflecting on them and growing closer to God as a result. Today’s excerpt comes from the first chapter of the book, “Perspective on Meditation and Devotion.”

Stuck in Traffic? Try Drive-By Prayers

The old man inched along the sidewalk toting a grocery sack. His back was painfully hunched and his eyes were downcast. When I spotted him, my heart filled with pity—and I knew it was time for a drive-by prayer.

Drive-by prayers are little invocations that can be offered for complete strangers who are obviously in need of help. And let’s face it: these folks are everywhere.

There’s the hugely pregnant lady pushing a shopping cart and dragging along a toddler who’s having a meltdown. There’s the teenager in a wheelchair, longing to be on the football field. There’s the heavily made-up woman sitting all alone in a bar.

Drive-by prayers are wonderful ways to pass the time when everything’s going wrong. Let’s say you’re on line at the grocery store, or stuck in traffic on the freeway.

Instead of cursing silently, you can look around and find someone to pray for.

How to Dream Like Jesus

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the dreams of Jesus. Not his night time dreams. But the dream that drove him day by day. It was never far from his awareness. He talked about it, taught about it, and prayed about it. Both his healings and his post-resurrection interactions reflected it. As I write about in The Jew Named Jesus, it was his self-stated reason for coming.

Call me crazy, but I think if we were to recapture Jesus’ own dream, our lives as followers would be fuller and richer. Our discipleship would be truer. Our churches would be re-invigorated. The world would be transformed.

Why Is the Road to Destruction Wide and the Road to Salvation Narrow? A Meditation on a Teaching by Jesus

In the gospel earlier this week, we read a warning from Jesus that too many people just brush aside:

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few (Matt 6:12-13).

Chesterton: The Youth Will Save the Church

Those claiming the Catholic Church is dead are many. Secularists can’t wait to put the last nail in the coffin of their greatest enemy and publish the obituary. Anti-Catholic protestants can’t wait for the day when they can claim definitively that Rome has failed and fallen into apostasy. “See,” they hope to say with glee, “you thought the gates of hell would not prevail! Boy were you wrong.”

Liberals, too, within the Church cannot wait for the “old” dogmatic Church to die, so they can joyfully usher in a new, more welcoming, amorphous church that with no dogmas, no morality, and no hierarchy.


“Was daddy involved with us when we were little?” she asked. “Did he want to spend time with us?” I wondered why she was soliciting these questions although I guessed it had more to do with the fathers of the families that she worked for than her own father. As a young adult woman who makes her living as a nanny, she has had the opportunity to live in the homes of parents and observe firsthand how they interact, or don’t, with their children.

9 Epic Authors Tell 13 Epic Confession Stories

The Sacrament of Reconciliation is often intimidating, especially to those who are new to the Church. But as these stories demonstrate, Confession is beautiful, liberating, and sometimes unpredictable. Read these great Confession stories and then share your favorite experiences with us in the comments.

Brooke M. Gregory

At our cathedral, in the confessional, we have the option to confess behind the screen or sitting in a chair facing the priest. My husband was one of the last in a huge line of people to go one day, and he opted to sit in the chair, and the priest was like “Oh my son, thank God you chose the chair! I threw out my back trying to lean and hear everyone through the screen. PLEASE, tell me you’re the last person.”

Rosary For the Persecuted (and Their Persecutors)

Christian persecution is spreading like a plague! Across the globe and on every continent, the Body of Christ is being oppressed, kidnapped, jailed, tortured and killed. However, take heart, hope is never lost. God has a plan to deal with the evil unleashed in this world. Inspired by The Lord’s appearance to an African bishop earlier this year, here is how you can participate in God’s plan for spiritual combat and ultimate victory!

The Rosary for the Persecuted utilizes the Sorrowful Mysteries, and follows the traditional way of group recitation, with specific decade intentions for different “Hot Zones” around the globe.

Conversion Story

We’ve launched a new video series at work called Caffeine and Catholicism, designed to be your quick jolt for living out the Catholic faith.

In this premiere episode (seen below) we’ll answer the age old question: how do you convert your friends and family?

As I discussed in the video, years ago I worked in the IT industry, leading teams to develop software systems, which gave me the awesome opportunity to work with a wide and diverse range of people.

Around that same time (late 90’s/early 2000’s), I was experiencing a re-awakening of my faith, and an absolutely unquenchable desire to save souls for Jesus Christ.

Abandonment and the Church of Martyrs

The Scriptures tell us that Medes, Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia were present during the famous sermon given by St. Peter on the Day of Pentecost. If these people were like most converts, eager to share their newly-found faith, then it is safe to assume that their zeal would naturally lead them back home to Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq) to spread that faith. This is one way in which it is believed that Christianity first came to Iraq.

Making Ordinary Time Extraordinary

“During the different seasons of the liturgical year, the Church … carries out the formation of the faithful by means of devotional practices, both interior and exterior, instruction and works of penance and mercy” (General Norms of the Liturgical Year and Calendar).

The Church celebrates two liturgical periods of Ordinary Time. The first follows the Advent and Christmas seasons, starting the Monday after the Baptism of the Lord and continuing until Ash Wednesday.

Currently, Catholics are in the second period of Ordinary Time, which began after Pentecost and will end at the First Sunday of Advent.

ASK FATHER: I work on Sunday. Can I go to Mass on another day?

Never dreamed I’d be asking this, but I suppose I had better: Due to my current job or the job that I’m hoping to take soon, getting to Mass on Sunday can be difficult. If I’m up until 3, 4, or 5 AM at work, but must be at work by 4 or 5 on Saturday and Sunday, being at Mass at 9:30 Sunday–or Sunday evening–isn’t a practical option. I would, however, like to get to Mass during the week anyway.

Are we required to attend Mass on Sunday, in particular, or are we required to get to Mass at least once each week? (Within the next 5-7 years, it’d be nice to have a job that left evenings and weekends free, but right now, I need to be at work when we’re busy. (I hate that we’re so secularized!))

The 10 Books That Have Influenced Me Most

The Christian Century magazine asked a lot of famous people “What books did most to shape your vocational attitude and your philosophy of life?”

Here is C.S. Lewis’s list, which he didn’t explain.

Of course, being a list-loving gal, I wrote down my own, which I will explain. (In order of how they occurred to me.)

I’m a Muslim But Here’s Why I Admire the Catholic Church

First, allow me to start this short article with what might be deemed a startling confession: I am not a Catholic, nor am I even a Christian. In fact, I am a secular Muslim and an avid reader of philosophy and history with an unswerving commitment to the unmitigated truth no matter where it is even, nay especially, if it runs counter to commonly held beliefs.

I have spent the last few years researching the history of Christianity, especially the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, and was shocked to discover that almost everything we had been taught about Catholicism was erroneous and apparently affected by anti-Catholic bias. In contradistinction to what most people both in the West and Middle East think, the Catholic Church and Church Fathers did not suppress science, reason, and knowledge. Quite the opposite, in many cases they even encouraged the acquisition of secular learning and the pursuit of science, and placed a high premium on man’s rational faculties.

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