(14th Ordinary Sunday: Ezekiel 2:2-5; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Mark 6:1-6)
Most of us are willing to make sacrifices for a cause, or for others, perhaps even for our faith. But can we honestly say with St. Paul: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ”? That’s no small feat!
Yet, that is what Paul claims in today’s second reading. Note, however, that originally he was not at all content, when he was being tormented by what he calls “a thorn in the flesh,” and when his insistent prayer for release was not heard. Finally the Lord replied, “My grace is sufficient for you.” That was a revelation to Paul and, through him, to us.
Sufficient grace was promised to Ezekiel in the first reading. He describes it as a spirit entering him and setting him on his feet, preparing him to face the rebellious people of God. “Whether they heed or resist, they shall know that a prophet has been among them.”
Have you ever been in that position? Holding others accountable is a thankless job, and those who are called to do so may well be perceived as a thorn in the flesh and treated with hostility.
For us who love Our Lady of La Salette so much, it is impossible to think that anyone could be hostile to the Apparition. But we must acknowledge that some things in the message and history of La Salette are troubling, both to ordinary folk and to theologians.
Maximin and Mélanie had to deal with that opposition; but they received sufficient grace to accomplish their mission in their time and place. Even though they were given an education, they remained fundamentally the simple persons they had always been. Like Jesus in the Gospel, they were criticized for being who they were.
But we may boast of their weaknesses. Look at what was accomplished through them. There can be no doubt that the Beautiful Lady accompanied them. Can we doubt that she accompanies us?
Conversion is a difficult but essential part of the message each of us strives to make known. By the sufficient grace of God, may the people know, in our time and place, that a prophet was among them.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.