It is not difficult to arrive at the conclusion that there does exist a real connection between last Sunday’s scriptures and this week’s extracts.

Let us make words from THIS SUNDAY’S PSALM [122 or 123] an anchor. — “like the eyes of slaves on the hands of their lords … like the eyes of a servant on the hands of her mistress, so our eyes are on the Lord our God …”

There is little doubt that our first parents took their eyes off the Lord God, and saw something (represented by an apple) which reflected the goodness of Creation, but were tempted to see a less honourable opportunity to pervert “the apple’s” purpose and goodness. They freely decided to use their wills and minds to achieve something not of the Lord’s original plan. Their eyes were not on the hands of the Lord. They were blinded by the opportunity to achieve the gain of perceived power and status.

Now, see words from the OLD TESTAMENT READING [EZEKIEL 2: 2 – 5]: “sending you … to the rebels who have turned against me .. they … have been in revolt against me.”

It is the same syndrome – the same story.

While the fundamental truth is that Jesus was sent to this set of rebels, it remains essential for us to accept that we too, as his disciples, were sent by the Lord (MATTHEW 28: 16 – 20] into the world to make our individual contributions to the restoration of God’s original plan – the fullness of God’s kingdom. Jesus Christ inaugurated the kingdom but he cannot, strangely enough, ‘do it’ on his own. Men and women ‘screwed it up’ …. men and women must help in restoring the proper thread to the correct screw!! In order for this to be achieved we have to keep our eyes on the hands of the Lord. These hands are visible in the world in which we live. When they are obscured by tragic events we MUST make their visibility clearer, even if only in what can too easily be dismissed by ‘rebels’ as minor (even if seen as inconsequential) ways.

What really matters here are words from the EZEKIEL extract which tells us “whether they listen or not, this set of rebels shall know there is a prophet among them.” It is natural for us to want evidence of the success of our witness, This, however, is not realistic – but it does not lessen the power of the witness.

If we take THIS SUNDAY’S GOSPEL EXTRACT [MARK 6: 1 – 6] into account we must ask and answer a question. Did the fact that the Lord’s listeners in the synagogue “would not accept him” affect the truth or value of his message? Surely not?! They, too, were a set of rebels! They downplayed what they had heard even in the face of their own admission expressed in the words “what is this wisdom that has been granted to him, and these miracles that are worked through him?” All was brushed aside with the put-down”this is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary …” {If you now take a look at the Genesis account of Satan’s encounter with Adam and Eve, together with what has been said in this and last week’s reflections, you should be able to discern the stark similarities.}

One further matter from this Gospel extract – the words of Jesus that “a prophet is only despised in his own country.” No doubt it is not, on our part, a despising of the Lord’s teachings, but how often do we fail to recognise the truth and value of his teaching and his interventions expressed through Word and Sacrament, the Church and other men and women of faith? How often do we downplay the clear value of the Gospel by expressing hesitation and doubt about its effectiveness?

This week our NEW TESTAMENT READING [2 CORINTHIANS 12:7 – 10] provides us with encouragement. “My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.” At once go back to “like the eyes of slaves on the hands of their lords … like the eyes of a servant on the hand of her mistress. The Lord’s grace (his power, presence, and influence) always sufficies – provided we keep him in mind, in our eyes’ view.

Yes! We are weak, and each one of us carries some “thorn in the flesh … to stop (us) from getting too proud.” We have to be “content with (our) weakness” in so far as it should never become an excuse for inaction against failures to hold up the banner in our own “home town.”

It always remains possible for us to turn things around – and Jesus should never “be amazed at (our) lack of faith.”