Home » Gospel Encouragement – 4th July 2021 – 14th Sunday of the Year in Ordinary Time

Gospel Encouragement – 4th July 2021 – 14th Sunday of the Year in Ordinary Time

Dear sisters and brothers,

Any of us who have ever had any contact with children, and I presume that is all of us at some time in our lives, may know the phrase “terrible twos”, that stage of a child’s life – normally around the time when they celebrate their second birthday, that the child learns to say ‘no’.  That one little word, said more and more often, is a sign of human selfishness starting to emerge in them.  We like to think that it’s limited to childhood, but in reality we know that it’s a complaint that remains with us until the day we die.

I share all this because it reflects one of the two words that came to mind as I reflected on today’s readings: ‘obstinacy’ and ‘vulnerability’.  I thought of obstinacy because our first reading and Gospel highlight it, particularly as we hear about the people of Nazareth, Jesus’ family and friend, refusing to believe that he is the Messiah coming in power.  They know him so well that their hearts are closed to seeing this possibility in him.  They are so aware of his humanity that they cannot open themselves to the presence of the divine in their midst.

However, in the second reading St Paul helps us to reflect on our vulnerability.  He talks of ‘the thorn in his flesh’, a weakness in him that many theologians have tried to identify – unsuccessfully – over the years, but maybe it is this human obstinacy, selfishness and pride that haunts us all.  Maybe our obstinacy is also our vulnerability.

What does our obstinacy look like?

  • The desire to have things our own way!
  • The fact that at times we choose what we want to believe, and not the whole truth that Jesus reveals to us!
  • Our refusal to believe that God has our good at heart; that he can use all things – even the hardest and saddest – for the good; that he can heal and work miracles in the world today; that he would choose to heal and work miracle in our lives personally!

Maybe this obstinacy is the thorn in our flesh, our vulnerability.  If that is the case, then there is good news; the Good News!!!  As St Paul tells us in today’s readings, God’s strength is enough for us and in our weakness He will be strong.  And he writes elsewhere, “where sin abounds, grace abounds even more”.  What does this mean?  The Holy Spirit wants to take our human frailty, to transform it and to use it.  When we humble ourselves, when we acknowledge our weakness, when we desire to change, then we open ourselves up to God’s grace and to his strength.  Where the terrible two’s find it hard to control their selfishness – their ‘no’ – we die to our selfishness, we say ‘yes’ to God every we time we allow him to take control, to teach us, to transform us.  When we do this we cooperate with his grace – the gift that he gives us of himself in the presence and power of his Holy Spirit in our lives – and allow him to make the ‘terrible twos’ in us a thing of the past.

Here, as throughout the Bible, we hear that God’s message is always Good News, there is always hope that we can become the people – the person – that God made us to be, and so we can pray with trust: “Come O Holy Spirit”.

With every blessing,

Simon