My friends, regular readers of my homilies have realized that I have lifted up the idea that during “Ordinary Time” in the Church; we, here at All Are One consider it as, “Extra” Ordinary Time because of the challenges given us each week to be so much more than “ordinary” in our following of our brother, Jesus. But it came to me, this past week, no doubt from the Spirit, that the Church, in the deepest wisdom that can be found there, perhaps has the intention for us to consider that the, “ordinary” way to be a Christian is, in fact, to be “cutting edge,” as in, “top of the line.” Just by merit of calling ourselves, “Christian” might mean that in the world, in which we live, we are to stand-out, and to stand-up as the “spirit, in the Voice” called and “brought” Ezekiel to do.
Maybe being a Christian demands more from us in that ordinary sense than being a “mere mortal” does. Just a thought to ponder and so for the time being, I will drop the “extra” in my homilies and as a way to consider Ordinary Time.
Recently, I have been lifting up what has been happening in the world in which we live, and then, taking it to the Scriptures. This week, I’d like to look at key thoughts from the chosen readings for today, and then take them to our world. Either way, it is what responsible Christians, those who take their faith seriously, are called to do.
From Ezekiel, we know that often we might find the world and its people, “rebellious” and unwilling to do, the “right thing” –the thing or things that would make the world more fair and just, safe, and good, for everyone.
And we see this in the face of so many who profess to be “Christians.” How can that be? A recent study, in the news, asked people 16-30 years of age to comment on what comes to mind when they hear the word, “Christian.” Of the first ten highest-rated comments, only 3 were positive and the top 3 rated comments were as follows when hearing the word, “Christian.”
If one weren’t a Christian, there is not much here that would draw a person to want to become one!
But yet, our God says to Ezekiel, “Mere mortal, I am sending you…” And if we think that God’s call here to Ezekiel is just for him, we would be wrong! My friends, God’s call to Ezekiel, to “send him” must be taken up by ourselves too, and for us, unlike Ezekiel, we must allow ourselves to be sent in the memory of our brother, Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus, in his time found, “stumbling blocks” –those who looked at the world through too small a lens—”we know his parents, his brothers and sisters—where did he get all this wisdom?”
Wouldn’t it be much better to say, “Wow! How wonderful that Mary and Joseph, through their faith, produced such a son! Of course, to say this, we have the advantage of “looking back,” instead of being in the “thick of things” in 1st Century Nazareth and surrounds.
So, how do we do in our own world? Can we look about us and see “miracles,” see the prophets in our midst who are willing to stand alone at times, to say what must be said and rather than ask, where did this come from? —we can see it as part of something bigger than that person! Can we simply recognize when we have been visited by God? Can we simply listen to the message we hear the prophet speaking and praise God for it?
Sadly, if we are waiting to see such “prophets” among our religious leaders, we will be waiting awhile. Most, if not all, are “stuck” looking at a small picture, when a view of the “grand vista” is needed! Why do we hear their voices regarding “the beginnings of life” and not “throughout the lives of these same individuals? Why is it an abomination to end a life in the beginning stages through abortion but not at the end through capital punishment? Our God is so big, so inclusive—why are God’s so-called leaders so small in what they can see as good, holy, and miraculous?!
The psalmist today has a direction for us— “So, [keep your] eyes on God!”
And Paul, who suffers from, “a thorn in the flesh,” presumably to keep his human nature in check, is a reality check for us too. Sometimes what we strive for, and think is best is not always what is best, and the Spirit helps us to shift gears. Sometimes this is hard to do, but experiences, “of the heart” tell us to keep trying, keep moving forward and the way will become clear. If we just, “stay in our heads,” ceasing to believe in what we can’t yet fully see, we make it impossible to see and “do” miracles, just like in Jesus’ time.
Our God tells Paul in his pain and suffering that, “my grace is sufficient for you.” Additionally, that, “power is perfected in weakness.” Paul is eventually able to say for himself, “When I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.”
Too many times, my friends, I think we forget all that is back of us when we make attempts to do good in our world. We experience setbacks that deflate our enthusiasm and say, “Well, that’s that!” instead of seeing an apparent failure as an opportunity to grow, become better, see, or hear a new plan or idea—become all that God is calling us to—to, in fact, be the “prophets” that our baptisms empower us to become—to speak the truth that is ours to speak—the words that if we do not speak, very possibly won’t be spoken by anyone else!
And in the end, whether we are accepted, or our words are listened to, or acted upon is not as important as that, we—speak them! And if nothing else, the hearers of the words will know, as did the hearers of Ezekiel’s words, “that a prophet has been among them!” We aren’t, my friends, called to anything more than this, but we are certainly called to no less! Amen? Amen!