The bronze serpent

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time -Year B- Like Ezekiel, Become a Prophet to Let the People Know That There is a Prophet Among Us.

Our liturgy takes us back to the salvation history between the periods of 599 BC to 587/6 BC. During this era, the people of God were being taken into captivity to Babylon. Ezekiel was one of the first exiles, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar.  It was there that the hand of the Lord came upon him, and he came to know that he, their God, was still among the exiles. He was given a vision through which he was convinced of something like a throne, upon which, the one who seated had the appearance of a man, surrounded with splendor. It was the vision of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. The hand of God enables the prophet to see the glory of God and the vision of the living creatures. Here, we see that God acts in the whole world in every human sphere. (Ezekiel 1:1ff).


This vision was followed with the call of the prophet Ezekiel. As the Lord spoke to him, the spirit entered him, setting him on his feet. With that, he was sent to the Israelites, who had rebelled against the Lord. The Lord sent him as a prophet to the rebellious house that they might know that a prophet has been among them (Ezekiel 2:2-5). In this way, the Spirit of God sends Ezekiel to proclaim the word of God, who strengthens the prophet to bring faith by making difficult appeal to people for conversion. In line with the other prophets, Ezekiel was called by God to urge the people to remain faithful to him and his covenant.


As a result of the humanity’s rebelliousness and inability to live at all times up to expectation to have God-consciousness, prophets are always needed to keep us all aware of God’s presence among us, in our need to live for him. We see this human rebelliousness in our gospel reading today. Jesus  went to his own part of the country followed by his disciples. On a Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue in a way that kept his large audience amazed. Out of familiarity that breeds contempt, he was rejected by his own people, as they questioned his source of power and wisdom. Questioning the power behind the miraculous deeds he accomplishes, they were regarding him as a carpenter, the son of Mary, a brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon. Continuing with their familiarity argument against his ministry, they were asking if his sisters were not there as neighbors with them. For that reason, they found him too much for them (Mark 6:1-6).


Jesus rightly responded to all these that no prophet is without honor except in his native place, among his own kindred, and in his own house. Acceptance of a prophet and his divine message requires faith. God works through human mediation and instrumentality. Once we explain away faith and dwell only on human elements, we become alienated and inimical to the things of God. That is why Jesus could not do miracles in his environment where the people lacked faith. He could cure a few who were sick by laying hands on them. We are told that their lack of faith distressed him so much. For that reason, he made rounds of the neighboring villages instead, where he spent more time teaching.


From scripture and tradition, we know that Jesus did not have any other natural brothers and sisters. In the Semitic culture, people of the same vicinity are called brothers and sisters. Mary was a virgin, before, during and after her child-birth of the Christ. Hence, dying on the cross, Jesus entrusted his Mother to the beloved disciple, to be a son to his mother, and for Mary to be a Mother to his beloved disciple, and eventually to his Church. If Mary had other children, the dying savior would not have put his Mother in the care of another person.


It is in this relationship with Jesus and Mary that each of us, represented by the beloved disciple, is also called to be a prophet, to bring our contemporaries to faith and help them, to have God-consciousness.


This was the case with St. Paul when in oneness with Christ, and experiencing the pains of living the life of the cross, he was assured of the power of the Lord’s grace. The Lord told him that his grace is enough for him, for in weakness power reaches perfection. 

May we experience God in our lives and so help others to come to know him now and forever.