A reflection by Fr. Ron MacDonell, SFM, on Ezekiel 2.3-5, 2 Corinthians 12.7-10 and Mark 6.1-6

Have you ever had a thorn or a splinter stuck in your finger? It’s painful and aggravating, and we usually go about to remove it right away. St. Paul tells us today that “a thorn was given me in the flesh…to keep me from being too elated.” We do not know what exactly it was St. Paul suffered, but we can imagine from our own experiences of life’s thorns. Sometimes it’s a physical condition like arthritis, sometimes a psychological difficulty such as a testy work relationship. We can learn from St. Paul, whose frustration is changed into acceptance when he hears God say, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul turns to Jesus for strength, and he can then proclaim “for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

Jesus must have felt that his rejection in his hometown was like a thorn. Like the prophet Ezekiel who is sent by God, Jesus goes to his own people. He is amazed at the people’s lack of faith and can do “no deed of power” but for a few healings. Jesus was too familiar to people: they knew his mother Mary and his brothers and sisters. He was a simple carpenter – how could he have these supernatural powers?

Often we, too, do not want to receive God’s healing power through someone we know too well, like a member of our family, or a friend, or someone at work. We have little faith that a friends’ advice may be able to work healing in our hearts and be a balm to our weary souls. By the same token, often our reaching out to a family member or a friend is not accepted. Our overture is rejected. Today’s readings remind us that we are all prophets and are sent to be God’s loving presence to those around us. We are called to be aware of God speaking to us through those close to us, those we “know too well.” Like Paul, we are called to patient with ourselves and to recognize that it is when we are weak that we are strong in Christ.