Hardened Hearts Block Blessings

User’s Guide to Sunday, July 7

‘Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.’
‘Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.’ (photo: Vandevyvere-Petyt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday, July 7, is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Mass readings: Ezekiel 2:2-5; Psalm 123:1-2, 2, 3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6.

The Gospel portrays the Lord Jesus as preacher and prophet, but even the greatest preacher in the world, Jesus, can find his powerful words falling lifeless on many a soul. The Gospel this Sunday shows the ruinous result of rejection.

The Catholic faithful must have ears to hear and hearts that are open and eager to receive the truth.

The preaching task is both precious and necessary, but it involves more than just the preacher.

Note well, then, the shared responsibility of the preacher and the people. Let these texts serve as a worthy background to the Gospel, which we can see in three stages.

The initial reaction of Jesus’ hometown crowd is positive. They are filled with amazement and joy. The text sets forth two sources of their joy: his wise words and his wonderful works. 

So far so good. But then, the text says, “[But some began to say] ‘Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him.” 

Sin has set in, and hearts have hardened; the joy has been jettisoned. Though the Holy Spirit prompts them to faith and to call Jesus, “Lord,” they harden their hearts. It is a grim and tragic sin. They say to him, in effect, “Stay in your place. You have no business being smart, talented, wise, or great. You’re just one of us Galileans and should amount to nothing.” This negative attitude to excellence among them probably comes from the discrimination of the time wherein Galileans were considered to be uneducated and “mere” farmers or shepherds. They seem to accept the negative stereotypes directed at them and internalize them. 

The text then says, “Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor 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. … He was amazed at their lack of faith.” Because they judge him to be nothing, they get nothing. They have blocked their blessings. Jesus says, “He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matthew 10:41). When we banish or discredit God, however, we should not expect to see many of his works. These things come only from faith.

If we sinfully reject the word of God, it is we who will forfeit blessings and miracles because of our lack of faith.