And Jesus could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And Jesus was amazed at their unbelief (Mk. 6:6).
The Scripture lessons of today’s Mass speak of the difficulties encountered in the work of the Gospel, the work of salvation. The Prophet Ezekiel was sent out to the rebellious house of Israel, to a nation of rebels, as they are described. St Paul speaks in our second reading of his ministry as an Apostle. The Second Epistle to the Corinthians, from which our second reading is taken, is a personal response to a serious crisis that threatened his ministry. There were those who questioned whether he was in fact an Apostle because he had initially been a persecutor of the earliest Christians. This doubt is not unlike the opposition encountered by Our Lord by those who took offence at him:‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him?’ (Mk. 6:4).
St. Paul responds to his critics and in so doing he recounts a great deal about his travels, his sufferings, his disappointments, the persecutions he endured, the mystical experiences and visions he had and also of the consolations he received. ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness’ (2 Cor. 12: 9). In his First Letter to the Corinthians St. Paul had already affirmed that indeed God chose what is foolish in the eyes of the world to shame the wise [and that] God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong (1Cor. 1:27). The Prophet Ezekiel is instructed to say, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ Whether they hear or refuse to hear, they shall know that there has been a Prophet among them (Ez. 2:5). God reassures the Prophet to speak in God’s name with confidence and with authority.