Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on who God sends and whether or not they are good enough for us to receive them.  This provocative reflection should lead all of us to ask ourselvesif we are limiting our hearing of God’s answer to our prayers. Who is talking to you and are you listening?  Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Please read Mark 5:21-43. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887

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For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/8/2012The 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

Please pause this audio and read Mark 6:1-13.
    I have a very wise thirteen year old daughter.  She is the last one in a line of five very intelligent and opinionated children of mine.  They usually have great insights, but there is just something about having to listen to their thirteen year old sister give very wise counsel that irritates the others, at least a little bit.  What is their case against listening to her? Basically, in a nutshell, they feel that she has not lived as much life as they have and she could not possibly know what they are going through.  I do find there is some irony that they do expect me to accept their “wisdom” under similar circumstances.
    What is uncanny is that Ruth, my 13 year old, is often very wise and insightful.  I do like to listen to her advice.  St. Benedict says in his Rule, “The reason we have said that all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.” (RSB 3:3). Later in this Chapter of the Rule, Benedict says that on “less important business” should the elders of the community be consulted alone. (RSB 3:12).  
    This being said, my mother often says that we ought to stop asking our two and three year old children what they want all the time.  She says, “They haven’t experienced enough life to know what they should want.”  Her case is that we, as parents, are doing our children a disservice by asking our children to make too many decisions based upon a lack of understanding of the consequences.  The point is well taken.
    If we can see that there is wisdom in listening to the young and those of our own family and there is a lack of wisdom in listening to the young, then what exactly is going on in the passage from the Gospel of Mark for this fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time?
    It may help to contrast this passage to last week’s passage the just precedes it.  In the previous passage, the healing of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the flow of blood, we see that the people who receive Jesus as the Lord are Gentiles.  These are people that we thought weren’t supposed to know God’s will because they were “outside of the chosen people.”  The faithfulness of Gentiles is a theme that runs throughout the Gospel of Mark. We suspect that he is inspiring his community by picking these stories from Jesus’ life to put in his Gospel.  You can clearly see that the people who don’t know who Jesus is and do not have enough faith to be healed are the people who know him.
    Think about all the people we know who are admired and respected by some community of any size.  We know what they are like, what they used to do, what their annoying habits are and their weaknesses.  In this particular instance, they know Jesus as the “Carpenter.”  It would be like going to your plumber for insights about God.  (Although, you may want to get God insights from my plumber because we are always talking about the greatness of the Lord whenever he comes to fix my pipes.) I think you get my idea.  
    Our preconceived notions of who God is gets in our way, just like their preconceived notions of who Jesus ‘really’ is gets in the way of people who know him.  It is familiarity that breeds contempt and should be a warning shot across the bow of our own personal ships of faith.  Mark shows us that from this incident Jesus goes on to feed five thousand and walk on water.  I will let you know if my plumber walks on the water as he lays the pipes.  Yet, the message is clear: we need to be careful about prejudging who God will send, what God will say and what God will do.
    In my talk for the thirteenth week of Ordinary Time, I posited that we often get caught up in the way people are healed by God, with screaming evangelists and a big show.  It is not too far of a stretch to remind us that God even used the enemy of Israel, Nebuchadnezzar, to teach his people a lesson.  It would be nothing for him to reveal that the local carpenter (or plumber in my case) is really delivering a message from God.
    In what ways do we look at people and automatically exclude them from being the people who God has decided to use to send us a message?  Are there people that we as a nation do not want to hear tell us how we ought to be better?  Are there people who speak to us on a daily basis that could be sending us the word of the Lord, but because of their occupation, their dress, their manerisms, the color of their skin, the accent they have, the slowness of their speech, or who lack credentials in our eyes to speak wisdom to us?
    The challenge for us is to slow everything down.  We need to sip like we are drinking hot tea instead of swallowing like a big gulp the encounters we have with people.  We need to stop and look at the people with whom we are conversing and not just hear, but “listen with the ear of our hearts” to what they are saying to us.  In our political debates, in our personal conversations, in our “Good mornings,” we need to hear what people are saying to us because it just might be God sending us the message that we had longed to hear, wanted to hear, and were anticipating that we would hear some day.
    This is just like my children who don’t want to listen to their little sister.  It is just like the people of Jesus’ village who couldn’t get over the fact that their local carpenter (in my case my plumber) was the one God had chosen to come and be who they had always hoped they would hear.  We need to be careful that we don’t miss Christ speaking to us through his own beloved creation who is standing right in front of us.  Amen? Amen.
    
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