Readings: Ezekiel 2:2-5, Ps. 123, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Mark 6:1-6

“He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief.” (Mark 6:5-6)

Last Sunday, we learned that fear (negativity) is one obstacle preventing us from receiving faith’s benefits. Jairus had come to call Jesus to save his little daughter, but before Jesus got to the house, some people brought news that the girl was dead. Jesus said to Jairus: “Do not Fear; Only Believe.” While fear expects the worst to happen, faith expects the best. A woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage received healing the moment she touched Jesus' garment because she was so full of expectation. Jesus said to her, “Your Faith has made you well.” 

Today, our readings continue the message of faith, demonstrating what becomes of us when we doubt God. While Jarius and the woman went home celebrating, the people who watched Jesus grow did not have much to celebrate. Could this be why Jesus drove away those wailing loudly at Jarius’ home? Miracles are scarce today not because Jesus is no longer powerful but because of obstacles to faith such as hostility towards God, familiarity, falsehood and pride. Let us now examine these points in detail:
1. Miracles are Scarce When we are Hostile towards God
Jesus came to his own country with his disciples. Unfortunately, as Jesus ministered to them, they began to question his credibility, i.e., his family background and the fact that they knew him simply as a carpenter. Mark tells us that they took offence at Jesus. They were angry with Jesus because all they could see was that a carpenter claimed to be God rather than God taking the flesh of a carpenter. Lack of faith makes us hostile to God; we shut the door against God, preventing us from accessing His blessings. 

Jesus “could do no mighty there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.” As the saying goes: “You may force a horse to the river, but you cannot force it to drink water.” God, who created us with free will, never forces His way on us. Once upon a time, Jesus sent messengers ahead of Him to a Samaritan village to prepare for Him, but the villagers rejected Jesus. They would not even let Jesus pass through their village. James and John became so furious that they said: “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked James and John. And they went on to another village. (Luke 9:52-56). 

Why does God not force us? He considers us as His children, not merely His slaves. If there is one word to describe God’s relationship with mankind, it would be Love. And as St. Paul would say: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its way.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). 

2. Miracles are Scare When we fail to see God in the Person of the Minister
What made the people hostile to Jesus? Was it that they did not recognise His superior wisdom? No. Their hostility was a result of their familiarity with Jesus. They took offence at Jesus because they knew him simply as the carpenter’s son; they did not recognise His Divinity. Unlike Jairus, who fell on his feet in worship before Jesus (while asking for his daughter’s healing), these people considered Jesus an impostor. 

As Mark puts it: “Many who heard Him were astonished, saying: ‘Where did this man (referring to Jesus as merely a man) get all this? Like these countrymen of Jesus, many Christians today have become so familiar with their ministers that they fail to see God in them. Catholics refer to their priest as “boy” or “guy”. Some of us have stopped going to confession in the name of “how can I be confessing my sins to a man?” There is a loss of the sacred. 

Some of our girls initiate amorous conversations with the priest because all they see in him is a single guy with enough money to spare. Rather than approach the priest for prayer and counselling, they ask for money, and when he says, “I don’t have it,” they think he is telling lies. If Jesus could not do any mighty work in his own country because the people looked down on him, what do we expect of our priests today when we look down on them? 

Some of us do not even genuflect before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament because we don’t believe that Jesus is there. We dress indecently to Church and start strolling from one end to another for attention. We openly gossip and gist even while Mass is going on. Some of us use the rosary as chewing gum and play with Holy Communion after receiving it. Some of us who work in the church even go as far as stealing from the offertory box, like the case of that woman in the viral video who was picking higher denomination currencies and stuffing them inside her bra. These are signs of familiarity.

3. Miracles are Scarce When the Minister seeks to Please the People
God told Ezekiel in today’s First Reading: “I send you to the sons of Israel, to a nation of rebels… they and their fathers have transgressed against me to this day. The people also are impudent and stubborn… Whether they hear or refuse to hear, they will know a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:3-5). In other words, Ezekiel’s obedience to his call matters, not the people’s reception. 

This command given to Ezekiel should be the motto for every minister. We should be more concerned about proclaiming God’s message than filling up church seats. Jesus instructed his disciples similarly: “If anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” (Matthew 10:14-15). Our desire to please people at all costs has brought about the watering down of the Gospel, the reduction of moral standards and the worship of money in the name of God. Where are the ‘John the Baptist’s of our time? Where are those who can speak the truth and damn the consequences? 

4. Miracles are Scarce When the Minister Becomes Proud
In today’s second reading, St. Paul gives us a clue to one factor that could be responsible for the scarcity of miracles today. The book of Proverbs says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). When the minister becomes proud, he forgets that he is simply an instrument in the hand of God and begins to behave like a god among men.

Sharing his personal experience, St. Paul says: “To keep me from being too elated (that is, from becoming proud) by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9)

Having learned to rely only on God's grace, St. Paul says, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Watch when the minister begins to boast that he has become greater than God. As the saying goes, empty vessels make the loudest noise. 

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, save us from falling into the trap of faithlessness, teach us to accept rejection positively, and help us always stand by the truth. We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. May God’s abundant blessings be upon us all. (14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Ezekiel 2:2-5, Ps. 123, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Mark 6:1-6).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu