14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Sunday, July 8, 2018
Fr. Jon
Homily transcription: 

14th Sunday / Ordinary / B

July 7-8, 2018

St. Thomas Aquinas, Ames, Iowa

Fr. Jon Seda


I am friends with a priest in our archdiocese who is an Iowa State grad, and who tells the story of a number of years ago when he was an associate pastor, someone brought cookies to the rectory.  His pastor later commented:  "Jesus got the cross, and we get cookies."  There is a subtle temptation to want to be popular and well liked, to tell people what they want to hear, and to not make any waves. This is true of priests.  And it is true of laity.


The readings for this Sunday challenge this way of thinking.  Ezekiel is called to be a prophet, and then God tells him that he will be rejected.  This also happened to Isaiah and Jeremiah.  God sends them while telling them they would be failures.  Probably not good for morale.  The Lord tells Ezekiel that he is sending him to people who are "hard of face and obstinate of heart."  I read that and thought---I hope this does not describe the people of St. Stephen the Witness at UNI!


Paul speaks of a similar rejection in the second reading.  And in the Gospel, we hear that even Jesus was rejected by the people of his hometown. He does great things, but is not applauded.  Instead, it says the people "took offense at him."  We see this over and over in salvation history, when God's truth and even God's love is not applauded.  It is crucified.


This continues today.  In our country we may not be aware that there have been more martyrs in our Church in the past century than the previous nineteen centuries put together.  This is a beautiful thing.  If there is one thing that would revitalize the Church in the United States, it would be if we had more martyrs for the faith.  Instead, our secular culture does not kill us, they simply ignore us.  Which is a nicer way of rejecting us.


Prophets are sent by God to speak truth to those who do not want to hear it.  So they will always be annoying.  However, it is also true that not all annoying people are prophets.  Some people are just annoying!


For the Church, meaning you and me, to be faithful to Jesus, it means that at times, we will face rejection. Perhaps one reason this does not happen more often is well stated in my favorite article of all time, from many years ago, call "Jesus the Warm Fuzzy" by Fr. William O'Malley, who like me taught in Catholic high schools.  He says that we have so watered down the Gospel, and have made Jesus simply a nice person whose only commandment to us is just to be nice to each other.  Well, Jesus was not crucified for being nice.  He was crucified because he was a threat to the civil and religious powers of his time.  


Most of my priesthood has involved working with young people, which will continue in the next chapter of my life.  I am fine is young people encounter the real Jesus and reject him.  That is pretty Biblical. What I am not fine with is Jesus being reduced to a nice, warm, fuzzy friend.  Young people will never follow such a Jesus because they find him boring and irrelevant.  Many young people today do not really reject Jesus.  If they find him boring, it is because they have never encountered the real Jesus.  Following Jesus is the most exciting thing we can do with our lives.


Today's reading speak of the rejection which happened to Ezekiel and the other prophets, to Paul, and even to Jesus.  If we are truly living our faith, at times it will happen to us as well.  May our Eucharist today give us the courage to ask for the cross instead of cookies.


Finally, this is my last weekend with you.  What I want to say to you I can't, so I wrote it in the bulletin.  That is one way to get you guys to actually read the bulletin!  But it can be summarized in two words:  THANK YOU.