If you are looking at a particular sermon and it is removed it is because it has been updated.

For example Year C 2010 is being replaced week by week with Year C 2013, and so on.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

16th Sunday of Year (B)

Sixteenth Sunday of Year (B) 
  (Jeremiah 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34)

Hopefully you will remember that last week in our readings, Jesus had sent out the Twelve on a mission, and told them that, if any town or village refused to hear them, they should shake the dust of that place from off their feet, in testimony against it.  Well, this week-end we are told of the Apostles’ return:
The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.  He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.   So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. 
There we have a lovely example of the special care Jesus exercised with and for His Apostles: ‘Come, get away from this endless activity and constant distraction and let us go to some “deserted place” where we will be alone, and where you will be able to find refreshment for your souls, light and understanding for your minds, peace and joy for you hearts.’ 
The Apostles had put Jesus at the centre of their lives, and it was necessary for them to return to Him -- to Him alone -- at times, in order that they might be able to continue to proclaim Him, Him alone, in their preaching and teaching.  Otherwise, they would inevitably descend to preaching either themselves or whatever people might want to hear: reacting to the wishes and serving and priorities of surrounding society before ultimately adopting the worldly attitudes and aspirations of those to whom they had originally been sent as guides in the ways of Jesus.  Thereby they would merit a share the condemnation of the pastors mentioned in our first reading:
Thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who shepherd My people: You have scattered My sheep, and driven them away.  You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.   I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the LORD.
This, People of God, is of great importance for our modern society where Church attendance is falling markedly.  The words “scattered My flock and driven them away” do not refer to the people falling off through indifference so much as to the pastors driving the flock away from Jesus, by offering them all sorts of substitute food rather than the true nourishment offered them by Jesus:      
I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven that one may eat of it and not die.  (John 6:48-50)
Jesus alone is the bread of life and He comes to us in two ways.  First of all, through His word:
He answered and said, "It is written, ‘man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"   (Matthew 4:4)
Secondly in the Eucharist:
I am the living bread which came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world
That composite bread, the Word of God and the Eucharist, is what we pray for to our heavenly Father every day:
            Give us this day our daily bread.
What then if God’s People, coming to Church on a Sunday, are not given the bread God Himself is calling them into His presence to receive?  That is the real meaning of those words:
Thus says the LORD God of Israel against the shepherds who shepherd My people: You have scattered My sheep, and driven them away.  You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds.  
This type of thing is done when, instead of the Gospel message and the Church’s teaching, political correctness is preached; when current fancies and prejudices are allowed to obscure Catholic teaching; or when the sins of the people are passed over in silence or even excused in order to avoid trouble or court popularity:   
'This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'   For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men.  All too well you reject the commandment of God that you may keep your tradition.  (Mark 7:7-9)
In this regard we should remember that ‘holding on to the tradition of men’ can refer not only to old-fashioned traditions, which, in these days, many people love to decry, but also to modern, current customs or practices, which far too many people are afraid to withstand. It is relatively easy to spearhead the rejection of certain traditions in the Church -- venerable by reason of their antiquity, saintly observance and undisputed approval -- under the popular aegis of pseudo-inapropriateness for modern times, but few dare to resist the clamour and enthusiasm of the crowd which frequently praises and energetically seeks to promote trendy opinions and easy options devoid of religious significance and having little or no Christian spiritual content.
To continue with our Gospel passage, we are told that the people followed Jesus and His Apostles, with the result that:
When Jesus disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He began to teach them many things.
Do please, People of God, notice the form Jesus’ compassion took:
He began to teach them many things.         
That is what must happen today in our society.  Jesus alone can heal us:
Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.   For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28- 30)
Therefore Jesus has to be preached, His teaching has to be given, in season and out of season.  This is, indeed, done at times, though only partially, when, for example, such  words as those I have just quoted  “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” are repeatedly acknowledged and commented on because they are beautiful words, easily recognized and admired by all.  But Jesus continues, as you heard: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me”, and there, some so-called teachers and many of their hearers stop.  The so-called teachers stop because they want to present religion and faith – not to speak of themselves -- in a popular light, while the hearers stop because they do not want to hear talk of a yoke, let alone feel themselves in any way obliged to assume one.
And so, all too often the teaching is omitted, whilst the seeds of consolation such as those words “Come to Me all you who labour” are carelessly thrown on the soil of souls already overgrown with worldly and even devilish weeds.  The result is that the word of God is choked and a pseudo-religiosity takes hold :  “God is good, He rejects none (there is good seed) --- there is no need to go to Church to find Him, to be accepted by Him (that is the rejection of any yoke) --- there is no need for sacraments, especially confession, just say an occasional prayer if you have time and God’s goodness will do the rest for you” (there you have the worldly, devilish weeds that choke spiritual life).
St. Paul told us in the second reading that Jesus:
Reconcile(d) (us) with God through the cross (that is the yoke) and He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near (that is the teaching), (and) through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Through Jesus -- the Jesus who died on the Cross and whose yoke we must take upon ourselves -- through that Jesus we have access to the Father, in the Spirit Who brings to our mind all that Jesus taught and, at the same time, enables us to keep all of His commandments.  Through that Jesus alone we have access to the Father.  Today however, that Jesus is not infrequently sacrificed anew in favour of a figure with the same name but who is without a cross or any other sort of yoke, a Jesus whose teaching is manipulated so that it appears not to demand that we be reformed or renewed by His Spirit of Holiness.  This pseudo-Jesus is prepared -- so modern people like to hear and want to believe – He is prepared to accept us just as we are: after all, are there not apparently serious and godly-minded people to tell us that we do not really intend the evil lurking in the harm we do, and therefore, though we may, indeed, have some faults and failings, nevertheless, these are not really sins, and, consequently, they can easily be overlooked.  With some such self-justifying thoughts there are sinners who – over long years -- find themselves undisturbed by their now calcified conscience; and who further deceive themselves by imagining a comforting prospect of heaven being approached by a broad, well-lit, road that is not only smooth, but which also allows for many places of pleasant refreshment on either hand, to keep those travelling along it both happy and hopeful on their worldly pilgrimage.
People of God, be innocent not foolish; be wisely ignorant of the ways of the world and truly wise in the ways of God; try to do what Jesus wants: 
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. (Matthew 7:13)
We can only do that if we listen to the teaching of Mother Church, for she alone knows Jesus: and she knows Him because He is with her, as He promised to be, to the end of time; she knows Him because He Himself bequeathed His own Most Holy Spirit to her that He might guide her into all truth.
On their return from proclaiming the Good News Jesus called the apostles aside from the crowd to a desert place where they could be alone with Him.  After a week of Christian witness in the world He still calls His disciples aside – apart from the world -- to be with Him, every Sunday at Holy Mass.  In our troubled world some Catholics allow those troubles to influence and poison their time at Church.  Like the apostles in our Gospel passage, we are meant to be one with Jesus in our Sunday gathering.  ‘One with Him’ can then mean two things: all one in faith before Him as living members of His Mystical Body, and all – individually and personally -- alone with Him in the devout attention of our minds and the pious love in our hearts.  All the difficulties, quarrels, with the Church proclaimed by not a few Catholics are due, in one way or another, to the failure of such Catholics to come to the Sunday gathering with minds and hearts fixed on their oneness in and with Jesus, exclusively.
That Church oneness of faith in Jesus realized at Sunday Mass is proclaimed by the beloved disciple John when he says:
Every child of God overcomes the world. Now, the victory by which the world is overcome is our faith, for who is victor over the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?     (1 John 5:4-5)
And that personal oneness of loving commitment to Jesus, realized most sublimely at Holy Communion during our Sunday Mass, is urged upon us by Jesus Himself:
Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matthew 16:24-26)
People of God, Sunday Mass is that unique occasion when our faith compels us to leave all behind and come together as one and be alone with Jesus; and surely, thinking on these things we cannot but be grateful to God for His goodness to us, and heartily agree that the Eucharist in which we are now participating is well named the Eucharist, our Thanksgiving.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

15th Sunday of Year B

Fifteenth Sunday of Year (B) 

(Amos 7:12-15; Ephesians 1:3-10; Mark 6:7-13)

This sending out by the Lord of the twelve disciples had a twofold purpose: salvation was being preached and offered, first of all, to the Chosen People; and, at the same time, the apostles were thereby being prepared for the commission Jesus would give them after His Resurrection to go out and preach the Good News to all mankind.
Let us look at this preparation of the Apostles.  Above all they needed to gain confidence in the Lord who was sending them out on this their first mission, because this present mission to the Jewish people – who, though stiff-necked and rebellious, had, nevertheless, been gradually formed and prepared over 2000 years by God to hear the word of the Lord -- would be much easier than their future mission to the sophisticated pagans of the Roman Empire and to the relative ignorance and extreme violence of the uncivilized world beyond.  However, Jesus made this mission to the People of Israel more difficult by His injunction that they were to:
Take nothing for the journey but a walking stick -- no food, no sack, no money in their belts.  They were, however, to wear sandals, but not a second tunic.
On their return from ‘mission accomplished’ (Luke 22:35) Jesus asked them:
“When I sent you out without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?"  So they said, "Nothing."
Evidently, their experience on this first mission to the People of Israel was such as to give them confidence that the Lord would be with them whatever their future needs.
Being sent out without bread, bag, or money in their belt, with only sandals on their feet, and, according to Matthew and Luke, without even taking a staff with them, would call to the minds of the apostles that they were on a most sacred journey, because, according to the Rabbis, people should not enter the Temple precincts with staff, shoes (notice, sandals were permitted) or with a money belt.  The disciples were being sent out on God’s holy work, and nothing else was to fill their minds and hearts.  They were to enter upon their proclamation of the Good News of salvation with the same dispositions of mind and heart as they would have on entering the Temple: seeking to worship God and give glory to His holy name; and for that their trust and confidence had to be secured by both faith in the Person, and confidence in the sure promises, of the Lord Jesus.
Today the Catholic, Universal, Church, continues the mission of the Apostles and the work is still the same: a supremely holy work to be done in the name of Jesus, and trusting in His Spirit; a work for the glory of the Father and in fulfilment of His plan for the salvation of mankind.
The response of men and women of our times and indeed, of all times, can be set out as Jesus put it before the Twelve.  First of all, He was sending them out:
As lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:3),          
With such a warning the Apostles should not have been surprised at anything.  However, Jesus, in our Gospel reading today, deals first of all with the disciples’ response to those who would apparently welcome them:
Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Matthew (10:11-13) adds a few more details:
Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out.   And when you go into a household, greet it.  If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.   
They were to enquire, literally “question carefully”, about who might be “worthy” enough to give them hospitality.  The fact of giving hospitality would not, of itself, be sufficient: for, on entering the house they were, indeed, to give it their greeting and blessing; but if the house, that is, the people within it, proved to be unworthy, that blessing of peace would return to them.   Jesus would personally guarantee the blessing of His Apostles, but it was not to be pronounced lightly nor given unconditionally: for the offer -- even the actual gift -- of hospitality was not enough, it had to be made, given, in the right spirit:
If (the house) is not worthy, let your peace return to you.
People of God, there we have something which people today, even modern Catholic people, might find remarkable, indeed, somewhat unpalatable, for it is quite obvious that, for Jesus -- and He wanted His disciples to have the same attitude as Himself -- those who received the apostles sent in His name, were the ones receiving a blessing, and they were the ones who would, and should, ultimately be grateful.  Not that the Apostles should not feel or express gratitude for hospitality received, but that they were in no way to feel beholden to their hosts: for those hosts would be rewarded, superabundantly, by the Lord Himself, not only by the blessing of the Apostles given in return for whatever kindness and assistance had been provided.
This appreciation is confirmed for us when Jesus goes on to tell His Apostles:
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.     
The symbolic gesture of shaking off the dust from their feet in testimony against that place and the people living there would serve as an indication that the ban of the Lord was resting upon that place.  In the legislation of the book of Deuteronomy, the people of Israel were instructed (13:17):
Nothing from that which is put under the ban shall cling to your hand.
The Rabbis’ teaching explained that anything of this sort, clinging to a person, was metaphorically called “the dust”: for example “the dust of an evil tongue”, “the dust of usury”.  With such a background we can understand the significance and awesome threat implied in the Lord’s command to His Apostles:
Shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.
Who would, however, be so foolish as to incur the ban of the Lord?   Our first reading taken from the book of the prophet Amos showed us: for Bethel was the royal sanctuary of the Northern Kingdom of Israel which had separated from Judah, and the Lord had sent Amos to warn the Israelites of the dangers threatening them.  However, when Amos proclaimed the word of the Lord, Amaziah, the priest at Bethel, told him to pack off back to Judah saying:
Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying, but never again prophesy in Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and a royal temple. 
Amaziah, however, even though he was the chief priest of the royal and national sanctuary was only one priest.   Was he really typical of the Israelites: what were the people as a whole like?  Listen to Amos speaking (Amos 3:15) in the name of the Lord about others in the Northern Kingdom:
I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end. 
Obviously, many Israelites of the North Kingdom ignored the word of the Lord because they were engrossed with their enjoyment of the ‘dolce vita’: winter and summer houses as splendid as if they were made all of ivory; and just listen how they lived it up!
Woe to you who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs  from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall; who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.  (Amos 6:4-7)
Now, there are many such people in our modern and prosperous Western society who are replete with and delight in possessions and pleasures, power and prestige, but have no concern for the ruin of the Church; anxiously seeking the approval of men and fullness of their earthly life, they have little time or use for the Word of the Lord.  Will the ban of the Lord be on them?  Was it on the luxurious Israelites in Samaria?   Hear the prophet’s words:
(They) are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph, therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, and those who recline at banquets shall be removed. (Amos 6:6-7)
Listen again to the prophet Amos (7:17) speaking this time directly to Amaziah the priest in charge of the royal sanctuary:
Thus says the LORD: 'Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by survey line; you shall die in a defiled land; and Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.' 
That, People of God, is the background to Our Lord’s words to His Apostles:
Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them.
What is, what can be, the modern significance of such threats against those who similarly reject, disdain, the known Gospel?  Should the Gospel be proclaimed using words of doom and destruction?  No, the Scriptures are for our guidance, comfort, and understanding, not for a weapon to brandish against our brethren; nevertheless, they are not empty, nor should we be ashamed of them.  
Today, God is widely held to be bound, even stifled, by our human rights … He cannot punish, He actions must always be patient of our appreciation and approval, He must be always kind in our way, never causing suffering of any sort …  whereas the Scriptures show what God has in fact done, and allowed to be done in His name.  His unsearchable wisdom and goodness, His incomparable knowledge and understanding of the creature He has made, His boundless appreciation of human possibilities in the destiny He is preparing for them along with His unerring awareness of what would be the ultimate results of humankind’s indulged selfishness and pride, above all His divine Love and enduring mercy guarantee the ultimate righteousness, beauty, and saving truth of all that He has done and will do.
Such examples, such warnings, are for us, for the modern apostles, that we may have true awareness of the vital importance and pressing urgency of the gospel proclamation for the salvation of souls; it is a gospel not to be watered-down for lukewarm conformity with modern humanistic thinking.  Centuries ago the French revolution first opened up the paths of our present-day exaltation of man and rejection of God, and one of its supreme leaders and logicians was Robespierre who has merited a modern biography entitled ‘Fatal purity’ of which one prominent reviewer was able to say that it proved there are monsters of virtue as well as monsters of vice!  How much fatal purity is being pedalled today, how many monsters of virtue are basking in the sun of human approval and praise!!
But what are the promises of the Lord?  What are the blessings he wants to bestow on us; the blessings reserved in heaven for those who embrace His Gospel and live through love in Him?  Listen to our second reading again:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before Him.  In love He destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favour of His will, for the praise of the glory of His grace that He granted us in the Beloved.  In Him we have redemption by His blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of His grace that He lavished upon us.  In Him you also who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the first instalment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of His glory. 
Elsewhere Paul -- finding himself quite unable to express the wonder of our calling and the blessings that await us -- simply contents himself with quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah:
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.  (1 Corinthians 2:9)
My brothers and sisters in Christ, may those promises be fulfilled, those blessings be bestowed, upon you who are now listening to the Word of the Lord with faith and will later go out from this gathering with love and trust enough in your hearts to try to live it in your daily lives.


Saturday, 7 July 2012

Fourteenth Sunday of the Year (B)

                14th. Sunday (Year B)                 
 (Ezekiel 2:2-5; 2nd. Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6)

We have just heard how Jesus went with His disciples to His home town and was amazed at the lack of faith He discovered there: His townspeople were unwilling to accept either His teaching -- which they understood well enough as to recognize its wisdom -- or His miracles, which they had seen for themselves or concerning which they had received unimpeachable evidence from others who had been witnesses.  And this rejection of Himself was motivated simply by the fact that they thought they knew Him, His family, and His origins.
Why did Jesus find that amazing … after all, He had been living among these people all His life; and He was, most certainly, wise enough to have come to a true appreciation of human nature in general?
Nevertheless, we are told that He did, indeed, marvel at their unbelief, and,  moreover, time seems only to have deepened that amazement and sorrow, for, later on, the experiences of His public ministry led Him to say (Luke 18:8):
When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?
In the Gospels, we are told that Jesus marvelled on only two occasions: one, as you heard, at the unbelief of His home townspeople; and secondly at the faith of the Roman centurion whose servant Jesus cured:
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. (Matt. 8:10)
The fact that Jesus is only said to have ‘been amazed’ on these two occasions involving faith or lack of it, seems to indicate that it is ‘faith’ which is the most personal and decisive act and attitude of which a human being is capable.
Why is faith so extraordinary?  Because it is a personal gift from God the Father; because it is the gift on which God’s plan for the redemption and exaltation of humankind depends. Human eyes might, indeed, have enabled men and women to see the wonders that Jesus did, and by their ears they could have heard the words of wisdom that came from His lips; but the transcendent reality at work behind those words and deeds could only be first of all intuited, then gradually appreciated and recognized before being finally embraced, by a humble and loving acceptance of and cooperation with God’s gift of faith:
I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word.  Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You.  For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.             (John 17: 6-9)
Jesus’ later questioning whether the Son of Man will find faith on earth when He returns, becomes, therefore, more understandable when we consider that faith is such a wonderfully decisive quality in a human being because it is supernatural both in its origin and its ultimate destiny, capable of raising a weak and sinful creature to the level of a child of God – and which, being so sublime, can only be rightly received with corresponding humility.  Did not Our Blessed Lady herself proclaim:
My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; for He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness?  (Luke 1:46-48)
Now, where faith is weak, and when -- perhaps under extreme pressure -- it might seem non-existent, Jesus, indeed, is disappointed and hurt; but He is never said to marvel at that: after all, He knows our human weakness.   We can see this, for example, when the disciples were in a storm on the lake of Galilee:
Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus.  But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save             me!"  And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to             him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:29-32)
Why, therefore, did Jesus marvel, why was He, indeed, so amazed, at the Nazarene’s lack of faith, their unbelief, when He was so understanding of native human weakness? 
Here we encounter something of the mystery of Jesus, something of the wonder of His Person and the beauty of His character.   He came from the Father and had lived the early years of his life on earth in the home of Mary and Joseph, so that, under their guidance and in response to His heavenly Father, He was seen to be constantly “growing in favour with God and men”.  You will remember that when seriously preparing for the approaching stage of His Jewish adulthood He had been so fascinated with the opportunity to talk deeply with the Scribes in the Temple -- learned in the Scriptures and the things of God -- that He forgot all about returning home with His earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, in the caravan.  And now, in His home synagogue at Nazareth, He was likewise rejoicing to speak again of the things of His heavenly Father with those in whose midst He had grown up, with those He intimately knew and specially loved, with those who were all members of God’s Chosen People and devout hearers of the Scriptures and followers of the Law:
It is written …, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.   (John 6:45)
However, He was truly amazed to discover how little reverence for, and appreciation of, His heavenly Father they had.  He had spoken to them of what He had learned from His Father, He had done the works His Father had given Him to do, and they had both heard and seen His words and His works as they themselves testified:
What wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands?
And yet they could not respond to His Father because they refused to recognize and acknowledge Himself!
The Nazarenes were not subject to a storm terrorizing their human weakness as were the disciples on the lake of Galilee; having heard His words, and either seen His miracles for themselves, or having heard of them from the accounts of friends and witnesses, it was impossible for them to deny that Jesus did speak such wisdom and had performed such works.  Their great difficulty, however, was that they were in no way prepared to allow one who had grown up apparently like any other child in their midst to appear better than, or different from, themselves or their own.  Failure through fear as experienced by His disciples during the storm on the Sea of Galilee was human; refusal from pride as shown by His townspeople here in Nazareth was devilish!  Who, indeed, did He think He was?
Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honour except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." So He was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying His hands on them.  And He marvelled at their lack of faith.
He marvelled because they refused to marvel at God’s goodness to one they considered to be like themselves.  Somehow, here in Nazareth, human kind had fallen so low as to despise itself. The Nazarenes were very proud -- you will remember how they had been willing to throw Jesus down from the hill their town was built on because they thought He had insulted them -- but they would not accept God’s secret choice of one of their own, because He was – to all outward appearances – no better than, just like, them.   Thus they condemned themselves. 
Here we touch upon a nerve situation for many sincerely pious people -- especially young priests -- who are truly seeking to serve God’s people and mother Church, Jesus their Saviour, and in all that, to glorify God.  They can be downcast and secretly troubled on encountering people, such as those Jesus encountered at Nazareth, who -- for reasons of no greater importance than personal pride or popular appreciation – refuse or are reluctant to recognize or accept them.  In such circumstances it is so easy and tempting for them to seek to make themselves first of all appreciated by men in order to serve God, even though thereby they start to divert somewhat, before finally departing totally, from their original simplicity and sincerity before God.  Their words, gestures, and attitudes become designed to -- gradually at first -- conform to, before finally completely identifying with, the popular idea of Jesus; and thus they seek refuge in fulfilling people’s expectations, rather than peace in the trustful pursuit of God’s calling and obedient response to Mother Church’s teaching. 
St. Paul now tells us how -- from his constant practice of prayer and his everyday experience of human life and society— he learnt to best serve God:
Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.  Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.   I am content, then, with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Faith, as the Gospel tells us, is a sublime gift of God for the glory of a human being, and for that very reason it can only be accepted and embraced in a spirit of deep humility, for, through faith, the very power of God is at our disposal, for His glory alone, however, not for our own.   And being conceived in humility, faith can only be nurtured and cherished by the constant practice of trust, for the worries and false solicitudes of the world would choke it, as Jesus lovingly warns:
Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?  And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind.  For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things.  But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (Luke 12:27-33)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you who have all been personally chosen and called by the Father to become disciples of Jesus and His witnesses before the world:  avoid worries and solicitude which sap away the strength of faith; above all, never indulge either doubt which destroys faith or yield to deceit which would disguise self-service as a response to God’s call.   If you suspect, fear, your faith is too weak, then betake yourself with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane; humble yourself, gladly, before God with St. Paul.  Would you, however, aspire, to the crown of faith?  Then cherish, nurture, protect your faith not yourself; seek to please God for Himself alone, ever serve men by helping them find their true selves in God.
In all things and at all times, give yourself in commitment, sincere and total, to God in prayer, to Jesus in the Eucharist, and to the Gospel proclaimed in Mother Church, and may those words of Jesus be your final benediction:
            Go in peace, your faith has saved you.