By Dina Dow

The call of the faithful is to proclaim the message of God to all people. Sometimes this is easy. Other times this is difficult. God’s grace provides strength for this task, as we hear in the Sunday Mass readings for the 14th and 15th Sundays in Ordinary Time. His grace is sufficient, for it provides humility, endurance and holiness.  

The prophets: Just doing my job  

Ezekiel and Amos, prophets of the Lord, were just doing their ordinary work when God called them to deliver a message of repentance to the “bold of face and stubborn of heart” (Ez 2:4). God’s grace assured them, as prophets, the Spirit to endure, the words to proclaim, and the humility to accept the rejection. Both prophets were successful at delivering the message, but, as God had prepared them for, the recipients rejected it. They did not want to hear it and ended up in desolation. Recall a time when routine was interrupted and you were inspired to invite another to change their behavior. Did you experience strength from God to do the right thing out of love? Were you able to deliver the message with charity and patience? Did you persist? Were you told to “go away?” If so, have you continued to pray for this person?  

A thorn in the side  

St. Paul gives incredible insight into the gift of “sufficient grace.” Impaled in his side by hardships, beatings and reminders of his past life (pre-conversion) evil bears down upon St. Paul. Yet, he passionately persists through consistent obstacles in order to proclaim the message of salvation in Jesus Christ. Nothing will stop him, not even his weakness. In fact, he admits that in weakness the power of the message is made-perfect, thus holy, as he writes, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 10).  

So why persist?  

Because our life has purpose and meaning, we must persist. St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Ephesians the reason we exist. First, we are “set apart” for a life of holiness and sacrifice. Second, our destiny is salvation. The path, opened by Jesus’ act of redemption, is paved with enough grace to endure the obstacles. We have the freedom to respond to this invitation of grace in choosing to do what is good and leading others to do the same. In all we do, we praise God’s glory in Jesus Christ who came to show the way to eternity. From birth to death, new life to new life, our God is kind, thus we yearn for this salvation! We persist to exist, today and eternally.  

We are in good company  

Jesus faced the same challenges, thus we are in good company. St. Mark’s Gospel tells of the second rejection Jesus experienced by those in his hometown, as he profoundly taught in the synagogue. The people could not possibly believe this was coming from Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph. How could he be such a great teacher? He was “amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:6). Yet, he endured by sending his apostles two by two to nearby towns. They were minimally equipped in supplies, yet maximally equipped by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the message of repentance and expel demons. Those who listened received more. Those who did not listen were left standing in the dust.  

Grace   

Paragraph 1999 of the The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The grace of Christ is the gratuitous gift that God makes to us of his own life, infused by the Holy Spirit into our soul to heal it of sin and to sanctify it.” This is the message of the prophets, St. Paul and furthered by Jesus: to repent (sacrament of reconciliation), be free of sin, and live a life of holiness (vocation) fortified by sufficient grace of God given to us (baptism), strengthened to be missionary disciples for the journey (confirmation) and fortified (holy Eucharist). This is, indeed, enough.  

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him” (Ephesians 1:3-4).  

Dow is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.