Sunday Reflection by Father Tracy O’Sullivan, O.Carm.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 6:1-6

Dear Friends,

                The gap between verse two and three in today’s Gospel is quite amazing. “Many who heard him were astonished.  They said where did his man get all this?  What kind of wisdom has been given to him:  What mightydeeds have been wrought by his hands!” (Mk 6:2)

                No doubt, they had heard of the raising of Jarius’ daughter, the cure of the woman, the healing of the demoniac and probably the quieting of the storm at sea.  In a town with no evening news onTV and no morning paper, Jesus gave them quite a bit to talk about at their break time and all throughout the day. 

                The conclusion was strong and clear.  Their opinion of Jesus was forceful and without hesitancy in verse three: “Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?…And they took offense at him.” (Mk 6:3).

                Jesus understood the challenge he was placing before his townsfolk and us.  The first public words he proclaims lay out the invitation to change, to move out of the comfortable rituals and prejudices that reduce God to a manageable size and image.  Jesus said, “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mk 1:15).

                The folks had no confusion on Jesus.  He was calling them to change.   Jesus was callingthem out of their comfortable niche, oftheir clinging to a past and a present of convenience and comfort.  Jesus was calling them and us to a future that demands a deep trust and faith and change!

                Jesus was not into accommodation, easy adjustment or comfort.  Jesus was and is inviting us into a Mystery that shatters our little world to draw us into a faithful response that deals with the paradox of the first being last, of the leader being the servant, of losing your life to save it, of taking up your cross to walk with the Savior to Jerusalem.

                It is truly amazing how we can domesticate and trivialize Jesus’ gospel message to fit our measure of God.  Whether it is the gospel of prosperity or the safe and secure answer to all of life’s mysteries in distorted clinging to the old religion like the Baltimore catechism, we are fearful of the unknown and the ever expanding challenge of the future.  Jesus comes to call us in faith to that future.  He wants us to know he is with us in the sicknesses and trials, the ever growing demands of aging, the losses of security in our terrible economy.  Jesus wants us to be open and embracing to the poor and down trodden.  Jesus pleads with us to see his presence in the immigrants.

                There is no crisis that faith cannot overcome if we are willing to walk with Jesus on his terms not ours.