A reading from the prophecy of Ezekiel
(Chapter 1: 13-15; 2:23-24)
Throughout history, prophets have emerged during times of stress, enslavement, and destruction. The Spirit of God is in them as we read today about Ezekiel, who was called by God amid the destruction of Israel by the Babylonians in the sixth century BC. The Israelites had refused to listen to the prophets who preceded Ezekiel, and so God is sending him into a most difficult situation.
Who are the prophets today in our world and in our country? They may be famous people like Pope Francis or others that work locally and in obscurity. How can we know? How can we discern among so many voices? Abraham Lincoln is seen as prophetic today, but in his day he was also hated by millions and was murdered for his actions. Being a prophet has never been easy, and false prophets emerge frequently. Who are the real prophets who speak the truth to power and endure rejection and harm to fulfill their mission?
You and I might not consider ourselves prophets, but there may be times when we are called to have the voice of a prophet in our family, our community, our place of work, or our country. But we should never forget that our words must be truthful, humble, and loving.
“Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.” One of our most powerful prayers is “Lord, have mercy on me.”
A reading from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians
What illness (“a thorn in the flesh”) is St. Paul talking about? Did he have cancer or heart disease or an ulcer? We do not know, but we do know that he suffered greatly. Yet, he can say, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” Have you ever been able to say that? Have you found some strength in the midst of sickness, the death of a loved one, a financial struggle, or a difficult relationship with someone close to you? What gave you the strength to make it through? Did it come from a friend, a relative, or perhaps a stranger? Did it come through prayer? Maybe you don’t even know. The strength was just there. God’s strength is a gift he gives us, although not necessarily on our timetable or in the way we expected. The question is whether we accept the gift, use it for our healing and health, and then give it away to others in need.
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
Painting: "The Prophet Ezekiel" by Michelangelo Buonarroti
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.