Ezekiel 2:2-5, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Mark 6:1-6
Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys is a very popular saint in the history of Canada. She is the first female Saint from the Catholic Church in Canada. As a Religious Sister, she helped to care for and educate many Native Americans and Canadian colonists.
She established schools for immigrants and children in the 1600s. She is well known for her desire to help the poor. When she began to establish schools for immigrants and children, many people started to attack her. The reason is that they were against her mission and what she intended to achieve.
She endured stark poverty and attacks from the Native Americans to the extent that she had the temptation to quit. They rejected her. They went to any extreme to put her to a stop, but that did not stop her.
Today, she is one of the founders of the congregation of Notre-Dame de Montreal, which is of the first non-cloistered religious orders for women in the world. She attributed all her successes to the grace of God.
In the second reading of today, Paul adds that despite the thorns and problems that he faces, the Lord assures him that His grace is sufficient for Him.
So, in the challenges that we face in our ministry, let us always know that the grace of God is always there to see us through.
We need the grace of God to be successful in our mission amidst these challenges.
We have A Mission From God.
Because of His love for humanity, God continues to find a way to bring people to Himself. He is constantly sending prophets, preachers, ministers, and even close friends who can encourage, advise and inspire us out of the former life to live a new life. Everyone has a mission that he/she comes to accomplish in this world.
A mission can be seen as an important assignment given to us by God to do in this world. In the first reading, we see how God sends Ezekiel to preach to the people.
Ezekiel’s call was more politically inclined. His call was filled with political symbols like chariot wheels (Ezekiel 1:16), an army (Ezekiel 1:24 and a throne (Ezekiel 1:26).
It was a special mission from God Because Ezekiel was already a priest before God called him for a special mission (Ezekiel 1:2). So, as a priest, he must have been teaching the people God’s law which is part of the work of the priests (Leviticus 10:11).
Through Ezekiel, one has to know that preaching the word of God is not only limited within the confines of the church building. God may give one a special vocation to stand up and talk against the evil of his/her times.
God called Ezekiel during the time of Babylonian exile. During that time many of them turned away from God and opposed what God said. They easily believed in false prophecies that their plight would end sooner than accepting God’s injunction to change from their evil ways.
It was in the midst of these that God sent Ezekiel. Like Ezekiel, we all have a prophetic call and mission from God. It does not matter what you do or where you work. We are called differently.
Many of us may be called to be instruments of peace in our families, a tool of evangelization among the youths, the lone voice in the midst of the political turmoil, an inspiration to souls who are losing hope in God, defender of the Christian faith, a light to homes that live in conflicts etc.
There is a reason by which you are born. When you see yourself being disturbed to do something, know that it may be where God is calling you.
You may be the one God plants in your family, homes, community, country, church, parish, organisation etc to bring people to Him.
Coming into the world, always know that you are here for a reason and the reason is to make the world better. There is a reason you were born. To be able to bring that to fulfilment, many may not even listen or believe in you.
Many people will stand on your feet. At times you may become discouraged. But when these things come, always know that they are part of the mission you came to fulfil. Therefore, these challenges must surely come.
You may also be a preacher of the word, a minister, an evangelist or working to touch lives for Jesus.
In all these, you will meet people who are going to push you right and left, many who are going to reject you, and some who will persecute you. These are challenges that we must face in life.
In the second reading, Paul mentions that His ministry was not without persecutions, insults, betrayals, hardships and constraints but in all these, He is content with them for the sake of Christ.
Every Mission Goes With Challenges.
A mission like I said before is that important task or purpose that God sends us to do for Him in this world. When you are willing to fulfil your mission, always expect the challenges that come with it.
In every mission one can experience pains, betrayal, rejections, limitations, self-limiting beliefs, weakness of the flesh, hard and obstinate hearts etc, Many may reject you, fight you and cause you great pains etc.
Your body may become your greatest problem, you may even be finding it hard to pray. Some people may take offence at you for nothing. These sometimes may make you feel discouraged. We see this in all the readings in the first, second and the gospel.
In the first reading, God told Ezekiel exactly that the people He is sending him to are rebels. Therefore they are stubborn and obstinate. God assures Ezekiel that He knows that they are rebellious people.
So, whether they listen to Him or not listen to Him, at least He has done His work as a prophet. They will know that a prophet is among them.
So, God is interested that we do the work in which He called us first. Do not be worried about those who are not going to listen to you. Just continue to do your work.
Therefore, in our mission, some people are not going to listen or pay attention to you or what you say. They may even do everything to frustrate you. Always know that It is part of the challenges of our mission on earth.
2. Secondly, in the second reading, Paul prays three times to God to remove the thorns in His flesh. Paul did not mention what the thorns are, but towards the end of today’s epistle, he mentions that he is content with his weaknesses, insults, hardships and persecutions. In essence, this shows that Paul may have been undergoing all these as a preacher of the word.
Therefore in the challenges of your mission, we must encounter those who are going to insult you for what you do, talk negatively of you at the back, persecute you for nothing, oppress and oppose you. Also, you will have certain limitations because no one is perfect. You may even undergo serious hardships to the extent that it will look as if God is keeping silent on you. Always know that they are part of the challenges.
3. In the gospel, Jesus was discouraged by the attitude of his kinsmen to Him to the extent that He could not perform any mighty deed in His hometown but healed only a few out of His magnanimity.
Jesus came to His hometown and synagogue to teach them. In the first place, they marvel at His wisdom. To the extent that many begin to ask the source of His wisdom?
This is something that would have given them joy that one of their own is performing on a high level but instead of that, they begin to attack Jesus. The gospel says that they take offence at him. They reject Him. His only crime is that he speaks in a way they do not expect.
In the same way, some people are not going to be happy with you because of what you do. In one of my youtube videos, I mentioned this as one of the reasons people hate you for no reason. The video is Eight things you have to do when people hate you for no reason. You can listen to it here
What we are saying is that In your mission and work for God, you will encounter people who will try to pull you down, many will also reject you and oppose what you say, some will hate you for no reason, some will lie against your name, many will misunderstand you, and a good number of people are going to oppose you. Remember that Jesus suffered this setback first in His hometown.
Therefore, do not be surprised that these challenges may even come from those you least expect. Your greatest challenge in life may come from someone you love and have helped. They may come from your close relatives and associates. They may come from those who are very close to you or work with you. You will encounter these among your friends, families and close associates. These are part of the mission.
What to do Amidst These Challenges?
The question we have to ask is what to do when these problems come. We are going to borrow our lift from today’s readings.
1. Never Stop working.
In the first reading, God exhorts Ezekiel that He knows that He is sending Him among stubborn and rebellious people. He shall continue to preach His word, whether they heed or resist, the major thing is that they have known that a prophet is now among them.
Therefore, what you encounter in life should not stop you from doing what is good. What you experience in your apostolate or the work you do for God, should not make you quit. They must come. We can never run away from them.
They are part of the challenges of our mission, So, Never stop working for God. Where you are working today maybe because of something God wants you to do there. Nothing happens by accident. So, never allow anything to stop you from doing what is good.
Also despite that His kinsmen oppose Jesus, He amazes at their lack of faith but yet, He did not leave there without touching some sick people. Therefore we should learn to cope with rejection. Every person must not say yes to you. Both yes and No are part of life.
2. Learn to Endure.
There are times you will encounter situations that may force you to be depressed and worried. There are times people may insult you and you feel like your world has ended. Always work to bear and endure. Paul endured, Jesus endured, therefore, we have to endure.
3. Sacrifice Them for Christ’s Sake.
In the second reading, Paul says that he sacrifices His weakness, insults, constraints, persecutions and distress for the sake of Christ.
In Verse 11, Paul says He turns Himself into a fool for Christ’s sake. So, when our weakness strikes, let us learn to control ourselves for the sake of Christ. When People oppose and fight you, offer it as one of those things you undergo for the sake of Christ. In Matthew 5:10, Jesus says that blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4. Never Take Offense At Any One.
When we encounter these challenges of our mission, there is always the tendency to take offence, retaliate and fight back. Never try that. In the gospel, Jesus silently walked away. Learn to walk away from people who do not value you. Do not waste your time exchanging words with anyone.
5. Do Not Be Discouraged.
Ezekiel was sent to rebels, people with stubborn and obstinate hearts, yet he was not discouraged by what He may have encountered. Paul even prayed three times to God, yet nothing happened and Paul was not discouraged to continue His work. Jesus was attacked by His people, but He still proceeded to heal some sick people. Never allow people to discourage you. Do not allow any circumstance or problem to discourage you.
5. We Need God’s Grace
In the second reading, Paul exclaimed that He prayed three times to God to remove His weaknesses but God answered Him that His grace is enough for Him. Therefore God did not promise him a problem or stress-free World, but He assured Him of the grace to go through the challenges. Therefore we need God’s grace to walk through the challenges of life, the challenges of our mission and the war with our human weaknesses and limitations.
1. When you are a man of truth and always stand for the truth, do not forget that many people will come up against you. If you are a leader, always prepare for the rough challenges that people will throw against you.
It is never an easy road. Any mission we undertake in this world is full of its challenges. It calls for preparation. So, the road to greatness is full of opposition, distress, constraints and hatred. Do not be discouraged when you face them.
2. Today there is much rebellion in our land. There is an increase in lack of faith. Many faiths are going down. Many now revolt against God, deny the divinity of Jesus Christ and detest Christianity. Some have become enemies of faith and enemies of the church.
Also, Our moral fabric of society is going to extinction, People live the way they want and not the way God wants. Our spiritual life is also becoming a forgotten issue. We are gradually thinking we are going to live in this world forever and hence forget our souls.
Today, many Christians no longer have time for God, So, God speaks to us today as he instructed Ezekiel: He is saying “Samuel, David, Rita, Sampson, Blessings, etc, I am sending you… to them who have turned their back away from Me. God is sending us to let people know about Him again.
He is sending you to be the one to convince your best friend to change the way he/she is living. He is asking us to be that voice that cries against bribery and corruption, injustice, oppression, immorality, and ungodliness.
3. In everything that we do, there must be a cross to carry. Ezekiel had his share of the burden. Paul had His share of the burden, and Jesus encountered more of that.
We have to know that in everything we do, it is not only about the glorious part of it. There is always the cross. Sometimes we do not want to experience these things. We do not want to experience discomfort in our ministry or call. We want everybody to clap for us and sing our phrases. Because of this reason, many make mistakes.
This is why when things begin to go wrong, we tend to hide them under the carpet and refuse to speak out.
To avoid problems with people who are helping us, we hide the truth and refuse to correct them when they make mistakes.
The truth is that when we fear the worst to happen by avoiding doing the needful, one day the worst will still happen because we refuse to do the needful.
4. In everything we do, we still need the grace of God. When the grace of God is sufficient, we shall always have victory. The grace of God does not remove the weakness or the limitation. The grace of God guides us through the rough edges when we encounter them and yet remain victorious. It is only through His grace that we can find the strength to undergo the worst tribulation and remain strong.
May God give us the grace to overcome the challenges we may face in our mission. May He also give you the strength to conquer the difficulties that may come your way. Amen.