Sunday, July 08, 2012
In today's first reading we find Ezekiel being sent by God to a Jewish people who had compromised their faith to the extent that they had gone over to worshipping pagan gods.
God chose Ezekiel to confront them, and it wasn't easy for poor old Ezekiel because God gave him a task that just filled Ezekiel with downright fear.
After all he was frail, he was weak, and very vulnerable man. He didn't feel up to the job. But by God's grace, Ezekiel did it.
Because for the priest and the prophet the Word of God must be spoken whether or not people will listen. Through His priests and His prophets God makes sure that His word and His teaching reaches us.
What we do with it from there is our choice. God does not force us. However, when it comes to judgement day - we won't be able to say - "I didn't know".
The Israelites to whom Ezekiel was sent were rebellious. We all know what a rebellious child is like. Well, rebellious adults are even more so.
Their minds are all made up. Those in rebellion lash out at anything that challenges their mindsets.
A rebellious mind is defiant when it is convinced it is right no matter what anyone says – even God.
Throughout history, all of God’s prophets experienced rejection. So it's nothing new. Rejection goes with the job. St. Paul faced it. We hear him speaking of it in the second reading.
Notice that he speaks of his littleness, just as Ezekiel did when God sent him to confront people with the Word of God.
Prophets, however, are not little in the eyes of God; they are little only in the eyes of those who reject them.
Jesus experienced the ultimate rejection and endured the ultimate lashing out by rebellious humans. In the Gospel of today we find Jesus back in His own hometown.
There His hometown folks take offense at him. Note that they take offense at him, not at what he had done. After all up to then Jesus had worked some pretty astonishing miracles.
Yet when He comes home His people pay no attention to what He had done. Instead their rebellious minds focused on Him as a person, rejecting both Him and what He had to say.
Why? because He did not say what they wanted to hear. They wanted to hear something with which they could agree.
They wanted to be uplifted not put down. But Jesus could not compromise the truth and He told them what they needed to hear - not what they wanted to hear.
One of Father Kaz's favorite sayings and maybe you heard it or maybe you haven't heard it..... it goes like this.....
- "If I do not say what you want to hear you will not hear what I have to say".
Of course this expression is taken directly from the prophet Ezekiel's own experience. Ezekiel had to speak God's word whether or not the people were ready to listen.
And quite often he was confronted by those who stubbornly felt that they knew better.
Why? Because they were human beings just like us and quite often human beings only want to hear that which will uplift them - not that which will disturb them.
We forget sometimes that God's word is like a two edged sword that both comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable.
That is the way it was in Jesus' hometown. He told them things they already knew but didn't want to hear
- they did not like the message and so they attacked the messenger - who does he think he is - we know him - he's just Jesus - the carpenters son. What right does he have to correct us, they said.
And ourselves, what we have said "He's just Father Faustino from Africa - what right does he have to come here and try to impose his African morality on us Canadians"?
He's just Father Kaz from Poland what right does he have to come here and take us back 50 years to rigid Catholicism.
After all, we are Canadian Catholics. We have been enlightened by modern theology .
We are followers of the spirit of Vatican II and the Catholic church needs to turn around and follow us.
The Catholic church needs to update itself and get into the 20th century.
My Dear Friends, We need to remind ourselves that as Christians we need to hear God's word before we ourselves can speak it.
And when we speak it we need to ask ourselves on whose behalf are we speaking and under whose authority?
Sure we are entitled to our opinion but since when does our opinion trump the Word of God and the teaching of Jesus Christ?
Toward the end of his ministry St. Paul ordained young Timothy to take charge of some of the Christian communities Paul had founded. In one of his letters to Timothy St. Paul said:
"I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power:
proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.
For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,
will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths.
But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.
This comes from St. Paul's letter (2 Timothy chapter 4: verses 1 to 5)"
This is precisely what Father Kaz has been trying to do during his time here and I am told this is what Father Christian will continue to do.
Our priests will bring us the Word of God and not their own opinion but the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said to his apostles, the first Bishops "if they reject you, they reject me and if they reject me, they reject the one who sent me."
And when people grumbled, got upset and left because they didn't like what Jesus said - what did he say to get them to come back - "please come back - I'm sorry I offended you?"
No, He didn't. Instead, rather than compromise the truth, Jesus turned to His disciples and said "and what about you? Will you also leave?
So it's up to us then. Once we hear the word of God, will we accept it or do we reject it?
Who are we going to listen to?
Like the song says "We gotta walk that lonesome valley, We gotta walk it by ourselves, no nobody else can walk it for us, we gotta walk it by ourselves."
So that choice certainly is ours to make. No one else can make it for us.
Let us pray that by God's Grace we make the right choice.
God Bless you
Deacon Bernie Ouellette