A 7 year old boy once asked a priest friend of mine, “Father, I notice every Sunday before you give your homily, you bow your head for a moment before the altar. What are you doing?' The priest answered, 'I'm asking the Lord that I will be able to give a good, if not better, homily.” He said, 'Then why does it take a long time for him to answer your prayers?'

We all face roadblocks in life. We have everything planned down to the last detail, then something unexpected happens. We have our goals set in mind, then something extraordinary develops requiring us to change our plans.

Jesus encountered a roadblock during his time. To his old neighbors, to his old friends, He wanted to bring them His message of love and forgiveness. But, they did not want him in their lives. They questioned his credentials. They pigeon holed him as the carpenter from Nazareth.

Jesus was rejected by people he loved because he was speaking the truth. They rejected our Lord because Jesus wanted them to revolutionize their outlooks on life, their perspective on people, their belief on what society needs. They rejected Jesus because Jesus wanted them to change for the better. They do not want to be assigned a task and a job. They wanted Jesus to do something for them, not them doing something for what Jesus wanted.

Jesus was speaking as a prophet and prophets are not liked or appreciated. If he spoke as a priest telling them about prayers to be said, obligations to be fulfilled, contributions to be given, then he would have been accepted. But once he spoke about those victimized by society, the blind and the poor, the prisoners and the broken, then they rejected him.

They rejected Jesus because they were afraid of Him. Their fear limited them to what God can do for their lives. If only they had faith in Him, if only they relied on his message, if only they trusted him, miracles could have happened right there and then. Nazareth seems to be the only place where Jesus was not able to perform any miracle. The lesson is clearly set before us: nothing good can happen if we reject in our lives the all good. To a faith that is receptive, to a heart that is open, to a person who is all accepting, the power of God to heal and transform is most effectively designed.

We all face the same roadblock that Jesus faced. Most of us are afraid to change for the better. Most of us fear losing control over what we normally do. Most of us get alarmed when we are asked to examine our lives and our priorities.

We can be like the people of Nazareth when we reject God’s message. It is when we remain deaf to what the Church has constantly taught: Abortion is morally wrong, Cohabitation and living together is a sin. We can be like the people of Nazareth when we reject Jesus. It is when we behave like cafeteria Catholics: choosing to believe what we want to believe. We can be like the people of Nazareth when we put roadblocks in our faith and blinds before our eyes. It is when we hold in contempt anyone on welfare, when we condemn those who are addicted, when we look with disdain on those who look, say things and behave differently from what we normally do.

We can be pious in prayer. We can be religious in Church. We can be compassionate in action. But, we have to rise beyond our piety, our religiosity, our compassion. We need to be like Jesus, prophets who are based on reality and morality, willing to change to what God is asking us to do, challenging people to do what God wants them to do, accepting not rejecting the roadblock we face.

There is a painting of Jesus where he is pictured standing outside and knocking on the door of a house. If you look closely, you will find out that there is no handle on the outside. The door must be opened from the inside.

God does not force himself into our lives. Freedom, one of our country’s pride, is also one of God’s greatest gifts. We only need to open the door to let him in. We need to unblock.

5 July 2009

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