Opening Question: Have you ever met anyone who was just plain stubborn? What happened?
First Reading: Ezekiel 2:2-5
God's Spirit took control of me and lifted me to my feet. Then the Lord said:
Ezekiel, I am sending you to the people of Israel. They are just like their ancestors who rebelled against me and refused to stop. They are stubborn and hardheaded. But I, the Lord God, have chosen you to tell them what I say. Those rebels may not even listen, but at least they will know that a prophet has come to them.
Contemporary English Verse
"No Mommy!" Jane folded her arms. She stood in the middle of the kitchen with a pout on her face. She wanted to stay up. She was not going to bed. It didn't matter if it was a school night or not.
Jane's mother loomed over her daughter. "Young Lady, it's time for bed."
"No, Mommy." The lines on Jane's face tightened.
"You know the consequences," her mother said. "No television tomorrow."
"I don't care."
Jane's mother didn't respond. Instead, she took a firm grasp of Jane's arm and tugged the young girl toward the bed room.
Jane tussled for a moment, then gave way and stumbled down the hall. She still had arms crossed. She still frowned.
Jane's mother placed the young girl in her room. "Get in bed. I'll check on you in a minute."
Jane slammed the bed room door.
Her mother snorted, opened the door, scooped up Jane, then placed her into her bed. Her mother turned around, turned out the light and closed the door without a word.
Jane laid in bed with her arms still folded and a grimace on her face. She stared at the ceiling for the longest time, then fell asleep.
Stubborn people like Jane are not new. Many people have a stubborn heart. They won't listen, they budge, they want their own way. Ezekiel found that out, even when God warned him about the hearts of the people. The people won't listen to God's message, but at least they had someone telling them that message.
Bridging Question: How much are you willing to do to work with a stubborn person?
Gospel: Mark 6:1-6
Jesus left the Sea of Galilee and went home to Nazareth with his followers. On the Sabbath, Jesus began to teach in synagogue there. The people who heard him teach were overwhelmed. "Where did this man get these teachings? What kind of wisdom has been given to him? Others have talked about such amazing thing he has done! But, isn't this the wood worker, the son of Mary? Aren't James, Joses, Judas, and Simon his brothers? Don't his sisters live with us?" Clearly, they did not like what Jesus had become.
"God's spokesperson has honor, except at home with his own family and relatives!" Jesus said. He was not able to do anything powerful except to heal a few of the sick when he put his hands on them. He was surprised they didn't trust him. So, he went to the nearby village and taught.
"Hey, Thomas, ready to help with the poster." Jerry looked up from the table. He had been outlining shooting stars and fireworks on the poster in pencil.
"Yeah, Jerry...wait. What are you doing?" Thomas' eyes got larger.
"What do you mean? I got here fifteen minutes ago, so I got to work."
"No, Jerry, I don't like the stars. And you got the fireworks all wrong."
Jerry stood up from the table. "Look, Thomas, I know you're probably the best artist in the class, but I had this idea and I started to draw. You said you'd be here by two o'clock, but you were late."
"You should have waited for me, Jerry. Any way, give me the pencil. I'll show you the way you should have designed the poster."
Jerry shook his head. "No." He turned, sat back down, and drew on the poster.
Thomas stomped out of the room.
A half an hour later, Jerry looked at his efforts. The Student Council rally poster announced, "Come, vote your choice." Jerry drew balloons and stars and shooting fireworks in ten different colors. He liked the way the poster looked. He was even proud of his work, but he did not like the way Thomas treated him. Thomas was just too stubborn.
Like Jerry, Jesus tried to work with the people who thought they knew him. Like Thomas, they were stubborn. They judged Jesus. It's hard to work with someone who judges you and puts you down. That's what Jesus found out, so he left his hometown and taught in a neighboring area. At least those people would treat him with respect.
Sometimes, we think we know people. Sometimes they surprise us by doing something we don't expect. We might be tempted to treat them with disrespect, but we should not be too stubborn. We need to treat them the way we would treat Jesus.
How can you treat others the way you would treat Jesus?