Homily (2) 14th Sunday of ordinary season year B: Fr.Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Ezekiel 2:2-5;Ps 123:1-4; 2 Cor 12:7-10 and Mark 6:1-6
Mission and Challenges of a Prophet
The Bible readings of today speak of the challenges that faces a true prophet. First of all a true prophet does not send himself. He is sent by God. He does not speak on his behalf but on behalf of the one who sent. He or she is brave, courageous, truthful, and remains the conscience of his or her society, people and next door neighbor. Secondly, a prophet is human, and could even be weak in eloquence and stature. Besides human weaknesses, he could be rejected by those he, or she is sent to evangelize. Thirdly, there may be many other forms of hardships and sufferings, a prophet must have to endure in the course of fulfilling his or her ministry.
In the case Ezekiel’s ministry captured in today’s first reading, he was sent as a human prophet to preach to the rebellious Israelites. His prophetic humanity is made clear repeatedly in the entire book of Ezekiel where he is constantly addressed by God, as ‘the son of man” or “mortal,” about 93 times. That Ezekiel knew that he was human, mortal, son of man, imperfect helped him relied totally on the grace of God in his prophecy of hope and change of heart to the exiled community of Israel in Babylon.
In the Gospel reading (Mark 6:1-6) , Jesus also called himself a prophet. Having been insulted and rejected in his home town of Nazareth, Jesus said to himself, “a prophet is not without honor except in his native place among his own kin and his own house.” By calling himself a prophet Jesus recognizes his father who sent him to do his will: baptize the unbaptized, forgive sinners, teach courageously in the synagogue and healed the sick without charge. By calling himself a prophet, in the likes of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and other Israel’s prophet, Jesus recognizes that human honor was immaterial to the mission that his father had sent him. In spite of his hardships that span through the garden of Gethsameni and via delorosa and even to the cross(which we relived this afternoon in the Holy Land), the spirit of the Lord was upon him (Luke 4:18), as he walked his way heroically to the calvary!
Saint Paul in his mission to the Church in Corinth understood these challenges. In the 2nd reading Paul says, “a thorn in the flesh was given to me, to keep me from been too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Throughout his missionary journeys, Paul, like Ezekiel, and Christ endured insults, hardships, rejections, persecutions, constraints and dishonor, for the sake of Christ.
How many of us today in our various places of ministries first of all would be humble to recognize that we are human, weak and vunerable? How many realizes that they are mere messengers, mortals, sons and daughters of men, like the prophets Ezekiel, or instruments in God’s hands? Does dishonors, insults, persecutions and hardships, challenges stopped us from doing the good that must be done(love our neighbors, be charitable and forgiving), or from preaching the gospel that needs be preached?
Taking Ezekiel, Saint Paul and Christ our prophet as our prophetical models of depature, may we recognize that there is that hidden divine strength in a every seeming human weaknesses and dishonor we may face in the course of doing good, evangelizing,or in the course of being faithfully and truly prophetic to our neighbors.