Reflections on the Readings
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 8, 2012 - Year B
Slow of Heart
And he marveled because of their unbelief. (Mark 6:6)
The home folks knew. For around thirty years Jesus worked in Joseph's carpenter shop. He was well known throughout the area of Nazareth. But the home town folks knew. It happened so very long ago. Mary was barely a teenager. She was betrothed to Joseph. And behind closed doors the community talked. Perhaps they snickered. "Can you believe it? Overshadowed by the power of the Almighty? Impossible!" they murmured, like their fathers before them in the wilderness.
"Isn't this Mary's son? they now ask. The air stiffens. And they name off some relatives. The semitic language allows the word used for 'brothers and sisters' to be understood as cousins and half-brothers and half-sisters as well. The local folks know that Mary does not have other 'children.' There is only this one they know as Mary's son. And now they are astonished and offended. All of the incredulity kept safe in their hearts for all these years is unleashed.
Jesus and his disciples listen in amazement. Mary and her kinsfolk stand closer to Jesus as if to protect him. There are no stones today. Neither are there any mighty works, except Jesus laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them.
Awareness of God's love and presence is integral to a full and vibrant Christian life. Expectation and openness give God access to our hearts. Without faith it is impossible to please God. For when we come to God in prayer, we must believe that He exists and that He responds to all who seek him. This is the testimony of Abel and Noah and Abraham too. (Hebrews 11:6)
I'm grateful to God for a Mom and Dad who taught me to let God be God in my life. As I was growing up I learned from my folks and Church that God is alive and well and able to do exceedingly more than I could ever ask or think about. I learned at home that we can come to God with reverent boldness and bow before His majestic throne of Grace and find the help I need.
Our Father is not reluctant to enter wherever he is invited. Rather than throwing our hands up and surrendering let's ask and keep on asking. Let's knock on the door of heaven and keep on knocking. Let's seek the kingdom of power and love and invite the Almighty to change our sluggish and slow hearts into strong and faithful hearts. Let it not be said of us that Jesus can do no mighty work in us or in our day because we stopped praying. Because we stopped hoping. Because we stopped believing.
Jesus came to his hometown and some in that town did not receive him. It was amazing. Their unbelief stifled the presence of God. Jesus, God in the flesh, could do no mighty work for them. Their hearts were slow and doubtful and filled with questions that limited their prayers.
I remember one time expressing some doubt about the effectiveness of my prayers. Daddy reminded me that the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. He recalled for me that Elijah was a man like us and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three and half years it did not rain. Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain and the earth brought forth its fruit. So the next time you throw your hands up and surrender ask God to break through. Ask him to shine the light of his power into your heart. Ask him to change your mind and to help you to make room for his will and that his power and glory will invade the darkness of your heart. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Sometimes miracles come all at once. They delight us and we rejoice that God is near. Then there are the miracles that come almost imperceptible to the senses. They are the prayers that get answered like a 1000 piece puzzle that is put together one piece in place at a time. Blessed is that Christian who endures such trial in prayer, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. The testing of our faith makes us stedfast and helps to be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But in all of our praying let us ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. May God calm our fears and feed our hearts with the mercy we need and seek for ourselves for those for whom we pray. (James 1:5-6)
Let us ask again today to be filled with all that God desires to give us. Open your hearts wide and let the Lord of this Holy Eucharist enter in and give you his life. Amen.