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Scripture Reflection - July 7, 2024

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Ezekiel 2:2-5 - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10     - Mark 6:1-6

Sisters of Saint Dominic of Blauvelt, New York Scripture Reflection

“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” (Mark 6:4)



“Hometown anxiety” is not a diagnosis and not even a medical term, but it is a very useful term to describe the psychological and emotional feelings that one often experiences when returning to one’s hometown, especially if one has been away for a while. It describes the unease, discomfort, or even dread one may experience going back to one’s “old neighborhood” or one’s family of origin, especially if one is returning in a new capacity. Old patterns and implicit memories can resurface. Jesus undoubtedly experienced “hometown anxiety” upon returning to Nazareth, as we read in today’s Gospel. 


The overwhelming theme in today’s scripture readings is rejection. In the gospel readings from the previous Sundays, we witnessed Jesus teaching the people on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, calming the storm on the water, driving demons out of a possessed man, healing a woman with a hemorrhage, and raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead. Most likely, word of Jesus’ power to perform miracles reached Nazareth. In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus returning to his home village of Nazareth along with his disciples after being away for some time preaching and performing miracles around Galilee.


Upon his return to Nazareth, Jesus is invited to teach at the local synagogue. Initially, the people are amazed at his wisdom and questioned how he was so knowledgeable and such a powerful speaker. After all, he had no formal education and was not the son of a rabbi. While most small towns celebrate and even exaggerate the success of local residents who achieve notable status, the people of Nazareth were unable to accept Jesus’ message as they were too familiar with him. They claimed he was just the son of a carpenter and the son of Mary, a local boy. Despite this rejection, Jesus did not get angry but replied, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house” (Mark 6:4).


In the first reading, the prophet Ezekiel also experiences rejection as the Israelites refused to accept him as a prophet, just like all the prophets before him. In this reading, we are commissioned and challenged like Ezekiel to accept the role of prophet. God speaks to us today as he said to Ezekiel: “I am sending you… to the rebels who have turned against me” (Ezekiel 2: 3). God warns Ezekiel that he will meet rejection for the human tendency is to label and limit people whose message is difficult to hear. However, we must be that voice that proclaims faithfulness to God’s message revealed in the scriptures and speak out against injustice, oppression, and corruption.


In his second letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul presents the image of a different type of prophet, namely, one who prophesizes by his life. Paul calls this type of prophecy “a thorn in the flesh” (2Cor 12:7). According to Paul, we are invited to embrace the gospel message with our whole being, which will lead to significant suffering. However, the more our lives speak of God and his message, the more effective our prophesy and preaching.


All three scripture readings for this Sunday challenge us to see the presence of God in others, especially the most unlikely individuals. Can we accept that God may speak to us through our friends and peers, and can we acknowledge them as prophets of our own time?



Sr. Mary T. Flood, OP


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