Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

by | Jul 9, 2024 | Homilies

St. Martha Prayer

Your faith led Jesus to proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

Your unwavering belief allowed you to see beyond His humanity when you cried out,

“Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

With firm hope, you declared, “I know that God will give you whatever you ask of Him,”

and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead.

With pure love for Jesus, you welcomed Him into your home.

Friend and servant of our Savior, I too am “troubled about many things.”

Pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope, and love,

and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear me and grant me

a place at the banquet of eternal life. Amen.

It is not unusual to walk through the subway in New York City during rush hour and hear musicians playing, hoping to earn a few dollars in tips. However, on the morning of January 12, 2007, something extraordinary happened. The world renowned violinist, Joshua Bell, brought his 300 year old Stradivarius into the subway and began playing some of the most difficult works of classical music for the people as they rushed off to work. He did it as an experiment to see if anyone would recognize him or, at least, recognize the music he was playing.

A reporter from the Washington Post went along with him to record what happened. In the time that Joshua Bell played, over one thousand people walked past him. Of all those people, only seven took the time to stop and listen. And only one person recognized him. To the great majority of people rushing off to work that day, Joshua Bell was just another guy playing music in the subway. Most people were oblivious to the great talent that was there regaling them with some of the best classical music ever written.

Isn’t it true that we are often in such a rush to get where we’re going that we fail to see the beauty all around us? Sometimes, where we need to go and what we have to do seem so urgent that it causes us to overlook the extraordinary things taking place all around us. Also, the beauty surrounding us can become so familiar that we take it for granted. We treat the wonders of nature that way. But we can also treat the extraordinary people we pass by or even live with that way. We can fail to see the good in them.

That is what is happening in today’s gospel. Jesus returns to His hometown of Nazareth after going throughout Galilee preaching and performing great acts of healing. He is going home to the people He grew up with – the people He has known all His life. They are His family and friends who should know Him better than anyone else. But they fail to recognize Him for who He truly is. For thirty years, He had lived among them and worked alongside them. Nonetheless, they never really knew Him. To them, He was nothing more than an ordinary carpenter from a small town. They just couldn’t believe that someone as ordinary as Jesus of Nazareth could be the Messiah. Saint Mark tells us that they were even offended by Him. We can imagine them saying to each other, “Who does this guy think He is?”

The attitude that caused so many people to walk past Joshua Bell in the subway and that caused the villagers of Nazareth to reject Jesus, is on display in today’s world. We hear it from the atheist who says, “If God really exists, why doesn’t He just show Himself?” What they fail to realize is that God’s glory is on display all around us in the beauty of nature and in the goodness of human beings made in His image and likeness. We also hear it when people say that Jesus couldn’t have founded the Catholic Church because it is full of so many ordinary,  sinful people. They fail to realize that Jesus’ whole mission was to call sinners to Himself. Just as the Pharisees doubted Jesus was the Messiah because He ate with sinners, so people today doubt the Church is the place where Jesus makes Himself present in the world because we are sinners. We can have the same attitude ourselves when we come to Mass and say that it is boring or that we haven’t been fed. That is because we fail to realize that the Risen Lord is here speaking to us in His word and giving us His flesh and blood in the Eucharist. We want to see an impressive spectacle to convince us that God is real and that He is here. Instead, God prefers to reveal Himself in the everyday, ordinary miracles all around us.

How can we discover this God who is always with us? We can only do it by slowing down. It is so important for us to start the morning with a few minutes of quiet and solitude. Our days can be so busy that we want to rush right into everything that needs to get done. By waking up a few minutes early and sitting alone with our minds raised up to God, we will have a sense of His presence with us. That serenity will carry us through the day and make us more aware of the beauty and goodness that is all around us. And, little by little, we will discover that the ordinary things around us aren’t so ordinary after all.

It is also important for us to stop during the day and spend a few minutes in silence. It is so easy to get carried away by the frantic pace of life. Taking a minute or two to look at a flower or feel the warmth of the sun on our faces makes us more appreciative of our blessings. It also helps put all the activity around us in perspective. Is it really as urgent as it seems to be? Is it worth losing our peace over? Probably not.

The most extraordinary miracle that we can overlook is the presence of Jesus Christ in ordinary bread and wine. The Eucharist teaches us that Jesus wants to be with us and wants to give Himself totally to us. We might be tempted to think that the Creator of the Universe cannot possibly be present in such ordinary bread and wine. But it’s true. He told us so. If we truly want a relationship with the God of love, this is where we’ll find it. And discovering God here, in this ordinary place, we will begin to discover Him everywhere.

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