3rd / 4th July 2021

posted 5 Jul 2021, 01:45 by Parish Office

Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (3 & 4/7/21)

“For it is when I am weak that I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).

These words of St Paul might seem a bit contradictory. Surely weakness is weakness and strength is strength? Not always. When you have God working with you, things can sometimes be turned on their head.

We all experience weakness from time to time. It might be just the weakness of the years going by and the body getting more frail. It could be the weakness of struggling with temptation: take the example of the gambler who had managed to keep away from his fatal vice, but on one occasion when he is with friends, he succumbs, and he loses every penny. He’s not only lost his money, but also his sense of achievement, and possibly, if he has a wife and children, he might lose some of their respect, and there could be questions of how do we manage without the money you just lost when you should have known better. But there can be other experiences of weakness: when we are tired and worn down because of work or family commitments, or maybe just through the stress of Covid, and not being able to have a proper holiday; or maybe the humiliation of having to face the German fans after a 2-0 defeat at Wembley to England. Experience of failure is humiliating, but it can also lead to greater humility, to recognise our need for God. We are never so poor than when we think we are strong enough to do everything by ourselves, and sometimes, pride comes before a fall. As the Lord said to St Paul, “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9).

We see the opposite in the first reading. The Israelites are described as a set of rebels, who are in revolt against God. They think they know better. The prophet Ezekiel is still going to proclaim God’s word in all its power. If they don’t listen, then it’s their problem. Or what about today’s Gospel reading? The people had known Jesus as He grew up, and were astonished at His wisdom, His preaching and His miracles. But they thought they knew Him and no-one could teach them otherwise. They remained closed to God. And God was amazed at their lack of faith. So much more could have been achieved had they opened their hearts to Him. As it was, “he could work no miracle there, though he cured a few sick people by laying his hands on them” (Mark 6:6).

Let’s dream for a while. What could be achieved if people really put their faith in God?

Just think how lives could be transformed. Reconciliation of hurts. Growth in honesty. A great reduction in crime. Restoration of trust between people. Hopelessness replaced by hopefulness. People’s lives having purpose, meaning and direction. Think how parishes could be transformed: a great increase in numbers; the return of so many to the fold, bringing with them their gifts and talents for service of the Lord; a new golden age in the Church; God being given the honour that is His due; an upsurge in vocations to the priesthood, religious life, diaconate, marriage. We can go on. But for the dream to begin to become reality, it has to start with us. People standing on the sidelines, observing, need to see the difference God makes to our lives, in ways great and small.

So we don’t need to be the people with all the gifts. Out of our suffering, our humiliations, humility grows. We acknowledge our dependence on God. And then God does great things. “For it is when I am weak that I am strong". (2 Cor 12:10)