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Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time B

July 4, 2021

Mark 6: 1-6

By Rev. John Tran

People often say, that if they were alive during the time of the apostles, and knew Jesus on earth, that they would be as holy as the believers of that time were. But truthfully, the Jesus of the time of the gospels and Jesus today are one in the same. In fact, we could say that our times are better. Why?

When Jesus was born, he found himself in a stable among the animals; now, Jesus is at the Father’s right hand and enshrined in golden tabernacles all over the world. When Jesus was on earth, he ate with tax collectors and sinner; now even people in high places gather around his table. When Jesus was on earth, he sweated, was hungry, thirsty and tired, and had no place to lay his head. Now, Jesus and the Father are one in his heavenly home, and Jesus is often housed in glorious churches.

The Jesus who spoke on earth was often not seen as a worthy person, but one who was on the fringe of society and of religious practice. Now, Jesus speaks as the Son of God. When Jesus was only in his earthly body, didn’t he seem like us in every way except that he did not sin? Didn’t he die and wasn’t he buried just like anyone else? And, perhaps he died worse than most. Now he has risen from the dead and ascended to his Father.

Then, Jesus was among the lowliest people; and even if they saw and heard him, they could still say: Where does all this come from, where does he get his wisdom; What mighty deeds are worked at his hands; Isn’t this the carpenter; Isn’t his mother Mary; Aren’t his brothers here in the synagogue and his sisters in the women’s section? And now, isn’t Jesus recognized as Messiah by all who have ears to hear? Isn’t knowing Jesus in our time far better.

And yet, we can still have the same problem as those who knew Jesus when he was on earth. We can still doubt, even though the testimony of millions of people say otherwise. And even if we do believe, don’t we hesitate to do what Jesus asks? Do we, like the people of old, reject his inclusive vision of liberating the poor, the prisoner, the lame and the blind, because it calls us to a radical change of heart in our relationship to others? So did many of his original hearers. Should we be shocked that we are pulled to do the same?

Today we are in that synagogue. How are we going to respond? Surely, we can take heart and redirect ourselves. Surely, we can bring to life Jesus and his message.

We do not ‘see’ the people around us, especially if they are well known to us, or strangers who we ‘know’ their type. In fact we are good at stereotyping. We have set in cement our ideas about these people, and tend to filter out any information that contradicts them. Could we try, today, to see those familiar faces with a mind free of old labels? If we are able to do so, maybe those closest to us will surprise us. Maybe strangers we have labeled may even amaze us. Undoubtedly, Jesus is still among us, present in others, but we fail to recognize him.

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