We have all been in need of something at some time— whether we needed to ask for a favor from someone or had an urgent need that had to be met.
When it comes to asking God for things, what do we ask of him? Do we seek comfort, health, wealth, job security, or some other goal? Or, do we seek virtues like patience, humility, compassion, meekness, and so on? Let us turn to God and ask him to grant us the spiritual gifts we need, as we cooperate with his grace and learn to turn to him in all our human struggles.
First Reading Reflection
Ezekiel was a prophet in the land of Babylon during the time when Jehoiachin, king of Judah, was a captive there. This reading tells of his call to prophesy. It’s a diﬃcult task, but notice that he has help. Jeremiah is assured repeatedly that his audience is rebellious, but his job is to be faithful, not necessarily successful. The people may or may not accept him, but he must be what God has called him to be. God’s mercy is evident in this reading. Despite the repeated rejection of his people, he continues to send them warnings. He wants them to hear his word.
The malady of stubbornness is not confined to Ezekiel’s audience. Looking ahead to the Gospel, we will find Jesus also being rejected by people who rebel against the idea of his authority. It saddens, but does not deter Jesus.
How dangerous the attitude of rebellion can be! It can shut us off from the voice of God. Let us ask God for the grace of submission to his will. Let us especially ask Mary, perfect in submission, to share with us her humble heart.
Second Reading Reflection
St Paul’s words show us that even the most faithful experience trials. His response is worthy of our imitation. He prays with perseverance for deliverance and receives an answer. It is not the precise answer he is looking for, but he listens. “My grace is suﬃcient for you.” In trusting that response from God, Paul receives a greater strength than he had originally asked for. “Power is made perfect in weakness.” He accepts that the essential thing is to allow God to work in him in all circumstances.
This passage brings to mind a much later saint, Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Her “little way” of confidence and love included being undisturbed even by her weakness and sins. This was not from self-complacency, or because she thought sin was not so bad, but rather because she recognized how terribly weak she was. She saw that God would have to do everything for her, and she trusted that he would.
We must not indulge in our weaknesses, but we must not be dragged down by them either. Instead, we can use the times when we fail to thank God for his mercy. We accept his mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and in the other means of grace. And we believe that God can use the offering of our weakness in the same way that he used the offering of Christ, for the salvation of the world. When we are weak, we are most strong.
Gospel Reading Reflection
This week’s Gospel contrasts sharply with the miracles of faith from Jairus and the hemorrhaging woman we read about last Sunday. These people have known Jesus all his life, and the fact that they are surprised by Jesus’s deeds testiﬁes to his humility. Though God, he remained for years an undistinguished member of his community. Only when the Father’s plan ordained it did he begin to work miracles. But this does not win over his neighbors from Nazareth. Because of their familiarity with Jesus, they are irritated when he begins to show his mighty power.
This Gospel is warning for all. When it comes to faith, especially for lifelong Christians, it is possible to think that we have Jesus all figured out. When this happens, we become upset when he diverges from our expectations. This might be when he asks for faith during a major change in our lives, or when something small occurs and throws off our daily routine. Whenever we experience disappointment or disillusionment, Jesus wants us to trust him. Our plans and our ideas about how God should act must not be the object of our trust. To avoid this pitfall, it can be wise to spend some time examining what our idea of Jesus is, and to pray to know him as he truly is. And as always, the one who can help us best to appreciate Jesus is his Mother.
Watch the short Opening the Word video reflection on today’s readings free at StMichael.FORMED.org
Have you ever felt like the prophet Ezekiel or Jesus in this week’s readings where they are most misunderstood in their hometown? How did you respond to family and friend’s misunderstandings? Were you able to remain charitable and still hold on to your convictions?
St Paul tells us of a “thorn in the ﬂesh” that he suﬀers from. What “thorn” do you suﬀer from? How can you carry it with joy as Saint Paul encourages us, rather than complaining about it?
Digging Deeper: Virtues Don’t Appear
After the reﬂections, we are inspired to ask God for the gift of virtue in our lives. While it is true that God will grant us the virtues we need, this won’t happen as though by magic. Virtues are good habits; this means that they will take time and effort to acquire. For example, if you are asking for the gift of patience, you will probably still be frustrated in rush hour trafﬁc, when you ﬁnd a mess that someone left, or the baby won’t stop crying. Rather, God grants you the grace to turn to him in that moment of weakness, and he will offer you the strength you need to persevere. As you pray for the spiritual gifts, be patient with yourself, ask for God’s grace, and remember to rejoice in your weaknesses and continue to get back up when you fall.
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Reflections reprinted here with permission from Augustine Institute.