July 8, 2012

Reflection for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Mark 6:1-6

I didn’t preach a sermon this weekend as I was at the National Discernment Weekend, Invocation, but below is an edited version of my sermon for Wednesday in Week 4 of Ordinary Time (II) which has the same Gospel as today.

“Familiarity breeds contempt” is how we might translate Christ’s saying today. Because to the people of Nazareth Jesus was just the local carpenter – a valued craftsman and member of the community, yes – but all too familiar. Jesus was all too ordinary for such extraordinary things to come from him. Except, of course, Jesus is not a magician performing tricks he’d learnt somewhere. As his words indicate, he is a prophet, and no prophet points to himself, or preaches his own self. Rather, his wisdom and mighty works come from God, who acts with and through his prophet, so that when Jesus acts, we see God at work. This is course, is especially true of Christ, who isn’t just any prophet but the incarnate God.

However, through this Gospel account we are reminded of an important pattern in God’s dealings with humanity. God often chooses the ordinary, the familiar, and works with and through them, becoming present in them, and bringing about good… Bread, wine, oil, water, are the familiar household things through which God acts in the sacraments. With faith, we can recognize this, and so, see God’s activity in our world.

But sometimes we forget the one who is most familiar, and we may often hold him in contempt. I mean, our own selves. God, who creates us and holds us in being, who unites us to his Son in baptism and holy communion, and who dwells in us through grace is very much present and acting in the ordinary and familiar of your life and my life. Indeed, God is, as St Augustine says, “closer to me than I am to myself”. So, God can work through us, if we let him. If we have faith in God, and in ourselves, to recognize that God does choose us, with all the ordinariness and weaknesses that we’re all too familiar with. And to recognize that he desires to work his wonders of grace with and through us. 

God can be present in the most ordinary things we might do, like a smile, a word of kindness, a helping hand. These might seem so familiar and ordinary to us, and yet they can mediate God’s presence to others if we do each little thing with love. Because where “charity and love are found, there is God”.  

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