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Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

July 7, 2024

Today’s Invitation

Today we invite you to explore Ordinary Time through a renewing prophetic imagination, with the help of Walter Brueggemann; engage Catholic Social Teaching’s highest expectations with the help of prophetic criticism; and embody the possibility of a better world with the help of The Center for Prophetic Imagination and the artwork of Ricardo Levins Morales.


Commentary by Revalon Wesson

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time


Reading 1

Ezekiel 2:1-5

The Voice said, “Mere Mortal, stand up, and I will speak with you!” As it spoke, the spirit entered me and raised me onto my feet, and I heard these words:

“Mere Mortal, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has revolted against me; they and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. The people to whom I send you are defiant and stubborn. You are to say to them, ‘Thus says YHWH!’ And whether they listen or not — for they are a rebellious house — they will know that a prophet has come among them.”

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 123

Response: So our eyes are on You, O God.

To You have I lifted up my eyes, / You who dwell in the heavens.
Behold, like the eyes of slaves / are on the hand of their master.
R: So our eyes are on You, O God.

Like the eyes of servants / on the hand of their mistress.
So our eyes are on You, O God, / till You show us Your mercy.
R: So our eyes are on You, O God.

Have mercy on us, O God! Have mercy! / We have endured much contempt.
Indeed, all too full is our soul / with scorn from the rich, / with scorn from the proud.
R: So our eyes are on You, O God.

Reading 2

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my fles — a messenger of Satan to beat me — to keep me from exalting myself! Three times I begged God that it might leave me. And God said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. So I am content with weakness, with mistreatment, with distress, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ; when I am powerless, it is then that I am strong.

Gospel

Mark 6:1-6

Jesus came into his hometown, followed by the disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and the many listeners were astonished and said, “Where did he learn all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted, and these miracles that are performed by his hands? Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joseph and Judah and Simon? Are his sisters not here with us?”

They found these things to be stumbling blocks. Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their home town and among their own relatives and in their own households.” And he could work no miracles there, apart from laying his hands upon a few sick people and healing them; their lack of faith astounded him. He made the rounds of the neighboring villages instead, and spent the time teaching.


The Inclusive Lectionary © 2022 FutureChurch. All rights reserved. 

The inclusive language psalms:
Leach, Maureen, O.S.F. and Schreck, Nancy, O.S.F., Psalms Anew: A Non-sexist Edition
(Dubuque, IA: The Sisters of St. Francis, 1984).
Used with permission.

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A Renewing Prophetic Imagination


We are currently experiencing the longest season of the liturgical year: Ordinary Time after Pentecost. As I went through today’s readings, particularly the first reading and the Gospel, I was reminded how I tend to disengage from an active and hope-filled version of faith during this time of year. The relative quietness of this long span of Ordinary Time can cause me to fall into robotic methods of faith that don’t particularly lean into a Gospel-centered, restorative hope.  

 If you, like me, have a habit of extracting as much revelation and meaningfulness as possible during Lent and Advent, I especially invite you to examine with me how the extraordinary prophetic energizing of Jesus and the prophets can rouse us from monotony and numbness. 

Firstly, I would like to briefly introduce us to philosopher Walter Benjamin’s concept of homogenous, empty time, where time flows uninterrupted in a way that makes its passage relatively meaningless, only to be used as a tool to count the days and structure history. This empty time is contrasted by messianic time, which is by nature revolutionary, disrupts oppressive narratives, and forces us to focus our attention on a very hopeful and urgent “now.” This messianic time ruptures through by the message of the prophets and the ministry of Jesus.

In today’s first reading as well as the Gospel, we encounter such prophetic witness. God is sending out Ezekiel to minister to an exiled and hard-hearted Israel, and Jesus is returning to his hometown of Nazareth, only to be met with scrutiny. In the case of Ezekiel, verse five states that the people will know that a prophet is among them, whether they listen to him or not. Despite Ezekiel’s rejection, he continues to minister to them. Now, Jesus returns to his hometown after he had already been teaching and performing some miraculous healings elsewhere. Even so, he is questioned about why and how he is doing all of these things. However, notice what Jesus did when he was met with rejection: He moved on due to their unbelief. He went to those who had faith in him and they were the ones who welcomed his teachings and received healing.

I would be lying if I said that my own sense of belief becomes terribly limited during the less reflective times of the liturgical year. It is readings like these that, while they might not seem hopeful, remind me that the work of prophetic ministry continues on 24/7, 365 days a year, whether or not I am receptive to it. The prophetic message is there, and we can choose to receive restoration from it if we allow it.

It is Walter Brueggemann’s book The Prophetic Imagination that explains this prophetic energizing. In his book, the reader is guided through how Jesus and the prophets invite us into living in a greater alternative purpose through imaginative prophetic ministry and grief, countering the systems of despair and numbness that the dominant culture keeps us trapped in. 

Brueggemann explains, “It is the task of the prophet to bring to expression the new realities against the more visible ones of the old order. Energizing is closely linked to hope. We are energized not by what which we already possess but by that which is promised and about to be given” (14).

For those of us who are followers of Jesus, we cannot let our unbelief numb us from the prophetic message that newness is within reach. Even in later chapters of Ezekiel, despite the constant hard-heartedness of the Israelites, God sends visions of restoration and hope. And we know, of course, that Jesus continues to preach, heal, and call us to form beloved community.

Brueggemann states, “God has time for his people and God insists his people take his time seriously. The church in a word and by steeply clock announces what time it is and that we must live in God’s time” (48). I believe that living in God’s time means being called to not disengage from the “every day.” It is critically important to listen to prophetic energizing, especially during the seasons that tend to lull us into a sense of false comfort and temporary happiness. We are promised a world much better than that.

Closing our ears to prophetic witness keeps us in homogenous empty time, while heeding it allows us to be pulled into kairos – a holy present where messianic time ruptures through. Prophetic witness does not tell us to wait for Lent to be repentant and lament, nor Advent for being joyous in anticipation. It tells us any and all seasons are viable for reflection and newness.

Though we, like the people of Israel, can oftentimes be stubborn and un-open to new possibilities, and though we may have numbed ourselves in the monotony of the counting of days, we must cling to the hope that prophetic energizing brings. Instead of being hard-hearted and scandalized by those who dare criticize the systems of death that we are all too familiar with, yet too stubborn to move out of, let us welcome the teachers, healers, and visionaries with the type of faith that allows space for miracles and alternative ways of being. It can be extraordinarily difficult to shift our imagination to believe in a world that can seem impossible to achieve. However, we should take these ideas that can be stumbling blocks and lay them as the foundation of our faith and hope for beloved and restored community. Surely there are prophets among us urging us to do so, and there is always time to listen to their wisdom.

Commentary by Revalon Wesson


Revalon Wesson lives just outside of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. By day, they work as a data manager for a system of Catholic schools and parishes. On the side, they coordinate support for justice-centered organizations, artists, and healers within South Minneapolis. Revalon has a BA in Theology and studied at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities.
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Engage Catholic Social Teaching

Justice in the Church

Our lives operate under multiple calendars, each with its own quiet and busy seasons. We must be careful that we do not view Jesus or the ministry of the prophets as tools to be used and then shelved until a “busy season” occurs, such as the next political cycle or social uprising. Prophetic ministry is meant to keep us actively engaged in God’s vision for renewed community, and we cannot do that if we let our hopelessness detract us from participating in society, as broken as it currently is. 

Catholic Social Teaching tells us that we have a right and duty to family, community, and participation in society. Prophetic witness informs us of the type of communities and families we should build, and compels us forward to create the positive societal change we seek. Prophetic criticism calls attention to the sociopolitical tensions and injustices that are not conducive to a theology of hope that creates beloved community, and also guides our consciousness in a way that is aligned with how God desires for us to live and connect with one another.

Prophetic witness and the teachings of Jesus are to be activated at all times, in all seasons. At the end of his book, Walter Brueggemann outlines the practical tasks of prophetic ministry that we all can follow:

  1. Encourage the dreaming of a community that is distinguishable from the current dominant community, while still recognizing that these two communities will always share degrees of interaction with one another
  2. Recognize that the prophetic mindset is not a spiritual practice; it is a way of living and is applicable at all times, in all spaces, and in the context of any vocation
  3. Build communities that can express grief and lament together, so as not to succumb to numbness
  4. Be intentional in our words and actions that energize, and be open and embracing of a better future

Lastly, Walter Brueggemann reminds us, “It is the task of prophetic imagination and ministry to bring people to engage the promise of newness that is at work in our history with God. Numb people do not discern or fear death. Conversely, despairing people do not anticipate or receive newness” (59-60). As we lean into this alternative perception of reality, it leads us to a renewed participation within our communities to make them more vibrant, inclusive, and just. Jesus and the prophets remind us that another world is possible, and we are participants and co-creators of that world.

Engage



A Community

The Center for Prophetic Imagination (CPI)

Another world is possible if we have the courage to imagine it and speak it into existence. Prophetic witness is not a thing of the past. So, who are the ones that are currently inviting us to enter into this newness?

The Center for Prophetic Imagination (CPI), located in Minneapolis, MN, is an organization co-founded by Maki Ashe Van Steenwyk who serves as the executive director and course instructor. The Center for Prophetic Imagination “works to subvert the existing social order through deep discernment culminating with creative action.” They not only follow in the tradition of the prophets, but also use the prophetic wisdom of historical and current liberatory and abolitionist movements to invite us all into deep discernment alongside the Holy Spirit. CPI invites those whom they encounter into discernment that leads to action, and solidarity that leads to a transformed community and collective liberation.

CPI leaders and partners include theologians, organizers, artists, writers, educators, and more! The Center for Prophetic Imagination currently offers a two-year certificate in Spiritual Direction in Social Transformation, as well as opportunities for retreats, talks, and sermons by Ashe Van Steenwyk and other staff.

You can read The Center for Prophetic Imagination’s full manifesto here

Art

Another World IS Possible by Ricardo Levins Morales

Another World IS Possible by Ricardo Levins Morales depicts a person crawling from a world filled of extraction and suppression into a world of justice and solidarity.  This, along with much other of Ricardo Livens Morales’ art, places the importance of the work of sustainability, anti-oppression, and community collectives.

Being able to visualize and actually believe that there is a way of doing things differently invites us into the prophetic task of embracing and building the holy, alternative, and restored community that God desires for us.

Ricardo Levins Morales is a Minneapolis-based artist, and you can learn more about him and see more of his artwork here.

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