Ezekiel 2:2-5 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Mark 6:1-6a
Each of the readings for this Sunday speak of distress: during the Babylonian exile, within Paul’s own soul, and in Jesus facing rejection by the people closest to him.
Ezekiel, one of the great prophets, was called to deliver God’s word to the Israelites in their time of exile. In this passage, part of his call to be prophet, God tells him that it will not be easy. First he will have to make it clear that there is no escape from going into exile because their own hardness of heart. Once in exile, he will provide the word of hope—what they have lost in community, homeland, and Temple—will be restored. All he knows at the beginning of his call, however, is that he is to deliver God’s word to people who do not want to hear it.
The reading from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is his famous meditation on his own weakness. Despite his fervent prayer that God would remove this weakness, it will remain and he will be required to search for its meaning in his life. It becomes part of his witness rather than an obstacle to it.
Finally, Jesus comes to Nazareth with a world of good news and he is rejected for his lack of exotic credentials. Who is he to be delivering a message from God? He had obviously expected a different reception since the gospel records that “he was amazed at their lack of faith.”
Today our world is a place where distress faces us on every side. It is essential that we repent of our hardness of heart, listen together to God’s word, take courage despite our weaknesses, and, with Jesus, witness by word and deed to God’s message in times and places of rejection as well as welcome.