14th Sunday in Ordinay Time - Year B - 5th July 2015

How Open are We to God ?

The fate of prophets is rarely a happy one. Called to speak in God's name, their mes­sage is often rejected by people unwilling to change their lives and accept the word of God. In today's liturgy, the prophet Ezekiel and Jesus, the supreme prophet, experience such derision.

Jesus went home to Nazareth where the locals were embarrassed by his goodness, felt uncomfortable with his preaching and were threatened by his lifestyle. So they sneered at his background and more or less pushed him out of town. His neighbours and those he grew up with rejected his goodness and all that he stood for. We can all be guilty of a similar rejection of anyone who challenges our complacency.

Who does that person think he or she is?" This remark is often made when a person of well-known humble stock has become a success and issues a statement of some kind. As Christians we should be able to distinguish between what is said, how it is said, and who says it. However, it is not an easy thing to do.

God is always reaching out to you and me. The people of Nazareth must have asked themselves, how could God be acting through someone so close to them? He was so close to them, they couldn't really see him.

We need to be alert and open to his grace. God comes in the person of those who touch our lives. It happens in many different ways. Someone criticizes us and causes us pain but later we realize that we needed the criticism, that it was for our good. God can come in the form of disappointments, too, and when we look back we see that we're better off not getting what we asked for. He comes in the good times, too, and we miss the part he played. Other times our plans don't work out, and it turns out to be a blessing . Most of all, God comes in the person of the neighbour, the person we take for granted, the member of our own family. Who is she or he to advise me?

Negative tendencies to knock must be replaced by positive efforts to appreciate others and express it to them. Don't wait until the funeral for the eulogy. Send me the flowers while I can smell them.

A final word of caution: do not take on the role of Prophet or Advisor too readily; make sure you have taken the beam out of your own eye first.

Fr Kevin O'Shea CM