14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
July 07, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.








O God, who in the abasement of your Son
have raised up a fallen world,
fill your faithful with holy joy,
for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin
you bestow eternal gladness.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever

First Reading Ez 2:2-5

The heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. When I saw this, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of someone speaking. 2 When the voice spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard one speaking to me: 3 “Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; 4 The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ 5 Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 123:1-2, 2, 3-4

R. Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.

Second Reading 2 Cor 12:7-10

Considering the exceptional character of the revelations, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. 8 Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, 9 but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

Alleluia Cf. Lk 4:18

Gospel Mk 6:1-6

Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And Jesus could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And Jesus was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.

Catena Nova

The apostle Paul, after shipwrecks, after scourgings, after many grievous tortures of the flesh and body, says that he was not harassed but was corrected by adversity, in order that while he was the more heavily afflicted he might the more truly be tried. There was given to me, he says, a thorn in my flesh, an angel of Satan, to buffet me lest I be exalted. Concerning this thorn I asked the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And he said to me: “My grace is sufficient for you: for power is made perfect in weakness.” When, therefore, some infirmity and weakness and desolation attacks us, then is our power made perfect, then our faith is crowned, if though tempted it has stood firm… This finally is the difference between us and the others who do not know God, that they complain and murmur in adversity, while adversity does not turn us from the truth of virtue and faith but proves us in suffering. (St. Cyprian of Carthage)

Is it not that vexations and troubles in this world are for the most part profitable either to heal the swelling of pride, or to prove and exercise patience, for which, after such probation and discipline, a greater reward is reserved, or to punish and eradicate some sins; but we, not knowing what beneficial purpose these may serve, desire to be freed from all tribulation? To this ignorance the apostle [Paul] showed that even he himself was not a stranger.  (St. Jerome).

Many people never stop saying—I have heard them myself—“If only we had lived in the days of the apostles, and been counted worthy to gaze upon Christ as they did, we should have become holy like them.” ….  And I answer that indeed the position now is not the same as it was then, but our situation now, in the present day, is very much better. It leads us more easily to a deeper faith and conviction than seeing and hearing him in the flesh would have done. ....Then even those of lowliest condition held him in contempt. They said: “Is not this the son of Mary, and of Joseph the carpenter?” Now kings and rulers worship him as Son of the true God, and himself true God, and he has glorified and continues to glorify those who worship him in spirit and in truth (St. Symeon the New Theologian). 

In some cases Jesus so richly poured forth the mighty work of healing that the Evangelist was led to exclaim: “He healed all their sick.” But among others the unfathomable depth of Christ’s goodness was so thwarted that it was said: “And Jesus could do there no mighty works because of their unbelief.” So the bounty of God is actually curtailed temporarily according to the receptivity of our faith. (John Cassian)
Whatever you do you need courage.  Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong.  There are always difficulties arising that tempt you into believing your critics are right.  To map our a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories but it takes brave men and women to win them.  (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Even the best men require some pain or grief to sober them and keep their hearts right. Thus, to take the example of St. Paul himself, even his labours, sufferings, and anxieties, he tells us, would not have been sufficient to keep him from being exalted above measure, through the abundance of the revelations, unless there had been added some further cross, some "thorn in the flesh," [2 Cor. xii. 7.] as he terms it, some secret affliction, of which we are not particularly informed, to humble him, and to keep him in a sense of his weak and dependent condition. (St. John Henry Newman)
How Ezekiel has moved on! He has moved from a man of spurned love, to a man who, from within the whirlwind of that anger, has begun to see glimpses of a hard-won love, the breakthrough into his heart of the breath of Yahweh. Little by little it has been that love that has turned out to be what the breath of Yahweh was all about, until slowly, oh so slowly, there has emerged the tone of a strong but gentle voice which builds up, bringing into life, loving people, re-creating, and tending towards catholicity.(James Alison).



     Some Rochesterians will likely remember the name Fulton J. Sheen.  Others of a certain age might recall a black and white TV screen flickering on a Tuesday night with a caped prelate scribbling on a chalkboard his message, “Life is worth living.”  Those programs can still be found all over YouTube.  Or perhaps you received a magazine every month from the Society for the Propagation of the Faith with Bishop Sheen’s appeal for your support.  Then there are his many books and tapes of his sermons still available on Amazon and elsewhere.   You can visit his tomb in Peoria, Illinois where his body was finally returned from St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York after years of unseemly court cases over who has rightful claim to his remains!  
     But it was his tenure as Bishop of Rochester from 1966-1969 that today's gospel brought to my mind.  Given his reputation people wondered why in the world he was appointed to Rochester of all places.  (You'd have to ask Cardinal Spellman about that).  But Sheen's tenure was short -- and stormy.  In some ways, he was ahead of his times, in others, a little behind.   As to the former, Sheen was a pioneer in forging relations with other Christians and with the Jewish community.  He was also an early champion of what we now call “social justice.”  A local housing project is named after him that seeks “to provide safe, decent, affordable housing to very low- to moderate-income families, seniors, veterans and persons with disabilities.”  But he was also rather assertive, if not authoritarian, especially in his dealings with priests.  Many of his policies, enacted without consultation, met with resistance, and after 3 years he retired.  
     Few would deny, however, that Sheen enriched the lives of countless people.  He now enjoys the title “Venerable” as his cause for sainthood in many eyes is a worthy one, though his halo might not have quite the sheen some would expect in a saint.  His successor in Rochester put the kibosh on his beatification – which Rome had approved – for fear some personnel decisions he made while bishop might embroil him in scandal.
     So, alas, he is still a “failure” in this diocese.  And I doubt if anyone can say who was more to blame, whether he or we; but for him at least, Rochester was Sheen’s only experience of rejection.  He could work few of his wonders among us.  And if someone were to ask, he might have called us his own “thorn in the flesh.”  (And still might!)
     I thought of Bishop Sheen as I read today’s gospel.  Just imagine Jesus’ visit to his home town, sitting down to teach in his “home parish,” the people he grew up with all around him, and giving a sermon which astounded  them, a sermon that soon turned to offense. Sheen once criticized "Rochester's dependence on "Mother Kodak."  That got people all riled up — though he turned out to be right in hindsight! 
     So was it something Jesus said or did?  A Kodak moment, perhaps?  It’s not clear.  But something went wrong.  They began to question his family background, his credentials, even his sanity.  And as a result, Jesus could do no deed of power there  in Nazareth.  He failed in his mission. And before they knew it, he was gone from them, a prophet without honor. . . in his hometown, and among his own kin, and in his own house (cf. G).
     That’s the problem with the gospel, isn’t it?  As long as it remains distant— like on a TV screen, or in the pages of a book, even in a pulpit, people marvel at it.  But when the gospel comes home for a visit, invading your native place — where you live, where it gets to you — well, that’s a different story.  Because there — at home, on the street, in the workplace, at the polling booth, in your wallet  — is where the gospel can really offend.  Up close, it isn't always quite what you expected.  It pierces and disarms you.

     See, when the gospel’s preached without regard for human respect, it always creates problems.  And no one knows that better than a preacher.  It’s hard to preach whether [people] hear or refuse to hear (cf. I).  And a preacher who’s not content with “playing it safe,” who isn’t out to be “liked”-- well, such preachers can expect rejection.  I think here of St. Oscar Romero, martyred while saying Mass for his outspoken sermons preached against the military junta of San Salvador.  Of such preaching, he wrote


A church that doesn’t provoke any crisis, a gospel that doesn’t unsettle, a word of God that doesn’t get under anyone’s skin, a word of God that doesn’t touch the real sin of the society in which it is being proclaimed — what gospel is that? Very nice, pious considerations that don’t bother anyone, that’s the way many would like preaching to be. Those preachers who avoid every thorny matter so as not to be harassed, so as not to have conflicts and difficulties, do not light up the world they live in (The Violence of Love).


     I watched a documentary on YouTube this past week called Sent.  It's about a Franciscan friar in the South Bronx, Fr. Stan Fortuna, a street priest, who uses his considerable talent as a jazz and rap musician to bring the gospel to young people by speaking their language and living right where they do.  Dispersed throughout the film are people who discredit his ministry as unbecoming of a Catholic priest in both medium and message.  Ezekiel would have recognized them — hard of face and obstinate of heart (I).  So would a pope who also takes Francis' life as a model, and who has called the church to "go into the streets."  And, yes, so would Jesus.
     Oh sure, we must always speak the truth in love, saying hard things gently, but it’s not easy to steer between the lines of what’s safe and what’s dangerous to say.  There’s a whole list of topics we might avoid lest someone be offended — things that hit a little too close to home. 
I would imagine Fourth of July gatherings this week avoided all kinds of "elephants in the room."  The kind that inhabit state legislatures, the halls of Congress, the White House, and yes the precincts of the Supreme Court.  Just wait until Thanksgiving!
     Which does make me, and perhaps you wonder: What’s off limits to my own ears?  What in the gospel comes too close to my own comfort zone?  Indeed, what might amaze the Lord at my own unbelief and send him on his way without honor? (Cf. G)   Rather than welcome him here among us in what makes our lives truly worth living.  Who lives and reigns, forever and ever.  Amen.


Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website)

For the Church: that we may risk entering into a deeper relationship with Jesus that will transform us and the way we live.

For healing: that the Spirit will comfort us when we are misunderstood, renew us when we have been unjustly criticized, and inspire us to show God’s love each day.

For freedom of spirit: that God will free us from all attachments so that we may respond wholeheartedly to God’s invitations and seek first God’s reign in our lives.

For transformation of our hearts: that we may recognize our greatest weakness, surrender it to God, and allow God to work within us for God’s glory.

For all who are alienated from their families or communities: that God will open new opportunities for dialogue, understanding, and reconciliation.

For the acceptance of others: that God will help us to be open to the stranger and their gifts as they enter our lives so that we may be nurtured and enriched by them.

For all who are struggling: that God will free those bound by addictions, give support to those facing their weaknesses, and guide them in starting again.

For all who are suffering: that God will bring healing to the sick, relief to those experiencing inclement weather, renewal those who have experienced abuse or crime, and new opportunities for those seeking employment.

For all government leaders: that God will give them the wisdom to fulfill their responsibilities, hearts sensitive to the needs of those whom they serve, and freedom to pursue the common good.

For peace: that God will free those who are oppressed by authoritarian governments, turn hearts from violence, and help all to recognize the dignity of each person.

God of the prophets, in every age you send the word of truth, familiar yet new, a sign of contradiction. Let us not be counted among those who lack faith, but give us the vision to see Christ in our midst and to welcome your saving word. We ask this Christ our Lord. Amen.  (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Antiphon

Offertory Hymn


My grace is sufficient for thee,  for my strength is made perfect in weakness.

Communion Antiphon


Closing Hymn (Heather Alexander; Midsummer)

You gave me all that I would need,
And made my wishes true-
And every night to me you'd plead,
And I decline to you-

You'd stand there pale and acrid eyed,
Yet softly say good night,
Turn and walk once more denied,
And so would fade the light.


The blue rose rare, one cannot gain
If glove or guard be worn-
'Tis only when one risks the pain
Of flesh against the thorn -

Our world was warm and full of play,

Yet I was not content-
And voices strong led me astray,
And far from you I went-

So swayed was I by other's view,
And fear it all would end-
That I forgot to think of you,
My one and only friend-

A broken promise cannot die,
In dreams it always burned-
And when I heard your anguished cry,
To you I soon returned-

But must it take your world to fall,
To find where truth may lie-
You are not the beast at all,
I fear my Lord, 'tis I-

A love this rare, one cannot gain,
If truth is not yet sworn-
It's only when we risk the pain
Of flesh against the thorn-