14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: July 8, 2018
People are often looking for something or someone extraordinary, strong, powerful, especially in political or religious leaders.
But, St. Paul speaks about his weakness.
Jesus is too ordinary, an ordinary human being who grew up in a regular little place with a normal job. Paul is weak, Jesus is ordinary.
So, most were unable to recognize the hand of God at work in them.
St Francis of Assisi once said this about prayer. “When we pray to God we must be seeking nothing – nothing.” A mature faith does not pray to get things, a mature faith prays to become more like Jesus.
There was a story of a young monk who went on a long difficult journey into the desert to see a very holy monk. Afterwards a friend asked him why did he go on such a difficult journey? ‘Did you go to ask the holy one a question?’ He answered, ‘No I did not ask him any questions.’ ‘Did you go to beg for a spiritual favour?’ He answered, ‘No, I did not beg for any favours.’ Friend persisted, ‘Then why did you go?’ The young monk responded, ‘I went to watch him sip his soup.’
Prayer is like that. We go into prayer simply to come to know God in every small way, so that we can become more like God. In prayer we find God in the ordinary and in the weak, not in the extraordinary, in the powerful, the successful.
This is why Paul hears the Lord say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul says, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” How can weakness be good for our faith? When we are successful, strong, popular, what happens to us? We feel inside, look how great I am, I am better than others, I do not need others, actually I do not even really need God.
Failing, being weak, being unpopular, can all be good for us if it leads us to realize our need for God and others. If it leads us to realize what is truly important, what really matters.
When we are strong, successful, popular, we can lose our way, lose our sense of direction in life.
In our weakness, God’s strength can be most clearly displayed.
For this reason, the Church is usually not most faithful when it is powerful in the world, when it is successful, when it is rich, when it is popular and influential.
The Church is usually most faithful when it is weak, poor, unpopular. Then God is able to work through us. But, we want a powerful, extraordinary Church.
We human beings are often looking for someone or something extraordinary, strong, powerful. But a mature Christian faith, a mature Christian Church, must be able to find God in the ordinary, in the weak. Jesus was not recognized as the presence of God because He was too ordinary.
We often miss God at work in our lives because we are looking for something special, powerful. But, being a Christian is not about being successful in this world, or being rich, or being powerful. We need to be able to recognize God’s Spirit at work in our life, in the ordinary, in our weakness, maybe even in your spouse, or children, or parents, or weak friends, or simple parish.
Jesus was too ordinary for many in His time. Are we failing to recognize God in our lives, in our homes, in our families, in our parish, because they are just too ordinary?