Homily for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

A Call to a Prophetic Life

Readings: 1st: Ez 2, 2-5; Ps 122; 2nd: 2 Cor 12, 7-10; Gos Mk 6: 1-6

This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

(https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8452-8392)

On this fourteenth Sunday, we rejoice in the spirit of prophecy and faithful witness to Christ. Although the exercise of this mission does not bring us comfort, we must continue to exercise it. This is because the grace of God is sufficient for us and makes us strong.

As I reflected on today’s readings, I recalled an encounter I had with someone sometimes ago. After admonishing her for acting wrongly, she simply turned to me and said: “Sorry, Father, do you think you can change me?” Then, she walked away. However, after a few months, she came to apologize and thanked me for helping her transform her life.

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As ministers and prophets, we encounter such resistance, insults, and discouragements every day. They are the “icings on our cake.” Yet, we hear every day: “Be ready to accept more discomfort for my sake, for the gospel and, for the good of your generation!”

Like Ezekiel, we all have a prophetic call and mission from God. The question is, where is this mission, and how do we begin it? Quite simple! There is a mission everywhere today. There is a prophetic mission in our rebellious generation, families, communities, and our streets, workplaces, schools, and the world at large.

There is much rebellion in our time against God, against nature, against divine institutions (the church), and the fabrics of our moral, social and cultural heritage. So, God speaks to us today as he said to Ezekiel in our first reading: “Son of man, I am sending you… to the rebels who have turned against me.” So, we must be that voice that cries against injustice, oppression, immorality, corruption, and ungodliness.

In the second reading, Paul describes his burden for the sake of the gospel. This burden was like a thorn in his flesh. For Paul, the burden includes: “insults, hardships, persecutions, loneliness, and agonies.” They were his cross as a prophet. Unfortunately, these are things we do not want to experience. This is because we do not like discomfort. So, we want everyone to like us and to say only good things about us.

So, even when things go wrong under our watch and nose, we are afraid to speak out. Our attitude is that of: “Please, let the sleeping dog lie so that I can have my peace.” I do not want to hurt anybody. I do not want to lose him or her. Unfortunately, the truth is that if you do not correct or help him or her today, tomorrow you will lose him or her forever.

God saw this same fear in Jeremiah and said to him: “Get ready, Jeremiah; go and tell them everything I command you to say. Do not be afraid of them or I will make you even more afraid of them” (Jer 1, 17). The truth is that these are burdens, we must bear as Christians if our society must be safe. We must not be afraid because the grace of God is sufficient for us. So, if we are willing, God will fill us with his grace.

In the gospel, Jesus was filled with this grace and spoke fearlessly. Of course, he got his share of insults. They ridiculed him, called him names like: “The son of a mere carpenter.” They called him an illiterate and a rebel. Despite all these, he was not discouraged. Instead, he continued to preach and heal his generation.

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We must not be afraid to carry out our prophetic ministries despite the odds against us. Instead, we are to bear them patiently so that good might triumph over evil, truth over a lie, light over darkness and, peace over war. “Where there is no [prophetic] vision the people perish” (Prov 29:18). We are all called to be that visionary prophet to our ailing generation.

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!

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