Homily – 14th Sunday Ordinary Time

Today, I’m honored to have some of my family here at this mass. I won’t point them out, so I won’t not embarrass them too much, but it’s always a great time, especially during 4th of July when there’s lots of gatherings and parties and things like that. You get to see a lot of different families, lots of different people.

And I’m at that age right now where a lot of my closest friends, I saw them get married, I saw them have their first kids, and now I see those kids going to college. So you can imagine it’s like, wow, that whole age thing is finally sitting in, I, I definitely feel old. But most importantly, the thing that I find to be so interesting is that as I’m going and seeing a lot of these now adult children interact with their parents, I see that they really have come into their own.

And as it should be, you know that we gain a lot of very important formative experience in high school and college. And as we go into the world on our first jobs, we definitely form an identity we have experienced lots. We have lots of different types of encounters that we’ve had. We’ve known a lot of different people. They all make us who we are and we’re each unique because of that.

But the most interesting thing is that the dynamic of the relationship between parent and adult child may not necessarily always change as the child changes, meaning that when an adult child comes home, they are often faced with sometimes having to do the same things that they did when they were growing up in the house. And many times parents will look and act and say certain things to an adult child as if they were five years old.

It happens. It’s understandable, but it also seems to then start to grow up is a form of resentment. Because each one of us, as we become our own person and want to exert ourselves in the world as who we are, we know that our family knows us better than that. They knew us when they saw all the twists and turns they saw of our mistakes.

They saw all of our heartbreaks. They saw all of our sufferings. This is why we often we find ourselves in a position where we find it’s so easy to love strangers, but so difficult to love family simply because family knows too much. And we kind of resent that a little bit. Of course, I bring this up in light of the gospel that we just heard.

Jesus is now a public person, and he goes back to his hometown of Nazareth. Now, Nazareth was like a backwater town. It was not like a big metropolitan city. It, by any stretch of the imagination. So it was a small place. Everyone knew everyone’s business. And so to see this guy come back to town preaching, healing, many people are just scratching their heads thinking, wait a minute, we saw this guy when he was in diapers, and we saw him working in the carpenter shop with Joseph.

We know his family. We know what he’s about. He ain’t that special. And you can imagine that was very painful for Jesus to embrace. Sure, we can talk about Jesus being God, and that gave him supernatural powers, but he is fully a human being. And to be rejected by your own people is very, very difficult. And of course, he says this is why a prophet is not accepted in his homeland, except in other places, but not in his homeland.

So for us to when we become the persons or people that we’re meant to be, and we go back to our home towns, what is that dynamic look like? For many of us, it may become very frustrating, resentful feeling, as if somehow we didn’t actually are being accepted for the new person that we’ve become. I remember experiencing this even with my own dad.

I had many beautiful opportunities in college and beyond to do a lot of traveling, explore a lot of different things, meet a lot of different people, working lots of different places. I think that, you know, my father didn’t really understand all the stuff I was doing. It was a little bit too much for him. He was someone who kind of went to stay put, not needed to go to lots of different places, but I was kind of risking too much stuff going to being too restless.

And while I wanted him to understand fully who I was now as a person, as a 25 year old, as a 35 year old, I knew that he was looking at me through the lens of someone who was maybe five or 10 or 15 at max, and it causes a real tension. It’s a real tension. But what do we do with this?

It’s a situation that can’t just be go away. You can’t just tell your parents how to think or what they should think. I think this is where Saint Paul is. Onto something. And the second reading Saint Paul famously mentions about having a thorn in his flesh.

Now, a lot of Scripture scholars have looked at that, and they’re trying to figure out what exactly is he talking about? This thorn in the flesh. Some people think it was a physical situation, a physical disability or something of that sort. Now, remember, Paul was the guy who was blind for some time. So maybe he still had the effects of that blindness.

Maybe that was the thorn in his flesh. Some people said it was some type of habitual sin or some type of addiction. He had. He just have kept on having to wrestle with the same type of sin temptation for a long time. But it could very well be that the thorn in the flesh of Saint Paul was actually another person.

If you look at Saint Paul, he wasn’t like the most agreeable guy. He made a few enemies along the way, and he even really wasn’t the chummy of some friends with Saint Peter. The first pope. We know that they had their issues. It’s quite possible that Peter might have been the thorn in Paul’s flesh. We also know that Saint Paul was the one who also persecuted Christians, first as a Pharisee, and then converted to followers to be a follower of Jesus.

So he burned a lot of bridges along the way. One of those people could possibly have been the thorn in the flesh. And perhaps for us, the thorn in the flesh could be someone very close to us, someone that we really love. That doesn’t mean that they’re a bad person. It means that it’s a difficult relationship. It’s a complex relationship, one that takes an extra amount of care and demands a certain level of grace.

But those complex, confusing relationships actually are the things that can actually help us to grow. Because when we go back to our home of origin or city of origin, or a place of origin, and we’re not fully accepted or we’re not fully embraced, maybe it’s a reminder for us that we still have a lot of growing to do, that we haven’t really fully arrived.

We haven’t actually fully become the person we’re supposed to be, that we don’t have it all together. And despite how much stuff we’ve learned and accomplished, it’s still isn’t our full person. We’ll be growing and becoming who we are until the day that we die. There’s never a time where we plateau, come of age, arrive and thank God that we have parents and people who knew us when to remind us that we still got a lot of growing up to do.

It’s something that happens every day when we come to church. You receive the Eucharist. And yeah, there’s a lot of talk about what’s going on with the sacrament and things like that. But foundationally, look at what we’re doing here as something bigger than what it appears to be. Something that appears to be bread and wine is something more than that, because that’s exactly how we engage life day in and day out.

The things that we think we know, there’s actually more that we don’t know. We think we’re seeing bread and wine, but maybe there’s something more there. And especially when we leave this church and see the people on our streets, their lives are mysteries. We embrace them the same way that we embrace the sacraments as a mystery, knowing that there’s more to them than meets the eye.

So perhaps we should be grateful when we go home and we’re treated like a five year old, because in many ways, we still are.

God bless.