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Persistent Hope

July 8, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

July 8, 2018
Mark 3:20-35
Fr. George Smiga

I hope you did not miss the remarkable line that concludes today’s gospel. Jesus comes to his hometown of Nazareth. People question his credentials and his mission. Then the evangelist Mark tells us that Jesus was not able to perform any deed of power there. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Jesus could not work a miracle in his own village. How is that possible? We believe Jesus to be the divine Son of God. Does not God have the power to do everything? God is almighty. But God chooses to exercise his power in deference to the creatures he has made. And God has made us with free will. We have the power to accept what is good or to reject it, to receive what is offered or to ignore it. God will not force anyone to believe. God will abide by the choices we make.

If Jesus was unable to work a miracle in Nazareth, we should not be surprised that at times we will be unable to attain the good we desire. We may deeply wish that a child, grandchild, or friend develops a belief God. Yet despite our prayers and encouragement, that person remains blissfully immune to God’s presence and love. We may strive to reconcile with someone who has hurt us or we have hurt. But in spite of many overtures and suggestions, that person shows no openness to healing. We might passionately wish to build a better world, to raise awareness of the threat to our environment, the needs of the poor, or the injustices of our economic or political systems. But those who we address turn the other way and focus on their own goals and priorities. They freely choose not to listen. And we, like Jesus at Nazareth, are rendered powerless before them.

It is in that powerlessness that today’s gospel calls us to persistence and hope. When Jesus was rejected at Nazareth, he did not cancel his ministry. He continued to preach the gospel to all who would listen. So we must persist in our efforts to do good, to encourage faith, forgiveness, and justice in all our relationships. We should persist in hope, because the same freedom that allows others to say “no” today may allow them to say “yes” tomorrow. Moreover, we believe that God is at work in our world, that God’s grace abounds, and God’s grace has the power to influence and change human hearts. So we persist in hope, believing that a time will come when others will freely choose faith, forgiveness, and a passion for what is good and just. And when they do, we will be able to join with them in building the Kingdom of God.

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