The Church of Saint Agnes

1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

The Church of Saint Agnes
1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Saint Agnes School | Contact Us

1st Week in Ordinary Time

Date: 
Fri, 01/13/2017
Author: 
Rev. Msgr. Donald Enzweiler

Does anyone have a stiff neck this morning?
It hurts so bad you don’t want to move.  It’s like you’re paralyzed.
For treatment, you may have been told to apply heat or ice to the area.
Maybe prescribed over the counter pain relievers.
Heard suggestions to keep moving but avoid certain activities.
Do slow range of motion exercises, up and down, side to side, ear to ear.
 
These remedies will do little good for the stiff neck I’m thinking of.
At Mt. Sinai the Israelites built and worshiped a golden calf.
As Moses intervenes on behalf of the people God states:
“I have seen this people; and behold, it is a stiff necked people.”
Then through the Old Testament prophets refer to God’s people as having a stiff neck.
 
This type of stiff neck is more than a character trait of being argumentative, opinionated, stubborn, aggressive, internally combative, and/or divisive.
It is an inner spiritual resistance to God.
More specifically, it is resistance to the changes God wants to bring about
both in our personal lives and in the world.
It’s a resistance to God’s help.
 
There are people who believe a stiff neck is necessary in order to prevent change.
They are proud of their stiff neck.  To others it comes across as being stubborn.
The fear is that any change constitutes movement away from God and his ways.
In other words, some believe a stiff neck prevents idolatry, unfaithfulness.
After all, God doesn’t change.  Once I accept God for who he is, I shouldn’t need to change.
I don’t need to change because I am comfortable where I am….in what I understand and believe.
Well, it’s one thing to be steadfast.
It’s something totally different to be immobile, inflexible, paralyzed, obstinate, unyielding.
 
In either case, having a stiff neck is a vice, not a virtue.
Jesus sees and hears all the inner dialogues, debates and conversations we have
as we are confronted by God’s revelations, God’s word.
In the end we come to the conclusion:  I’m going to do what I want anyway.
And Jesus’ response?  “Why are you thinking such things!”
 
Through Jesus Christ we are promised a future that is different from the present.
The Christian call is summons to that future.
By cooperating with grace, by submitting to God’s rule,
the passing of time is and will be movement toward wholeness, and fullness
and freedom and perfection.
Those who are stiff necked refuse to commit themselves to and in a history of ongoing salvation.
Those who are stiff necked disregard God’s summons to love;
they attack, evade, neglect this call.  They believe they have found something better.
 
If you have this type of stiff neck the only remedy, the only relief from this paralyzing affliction,
is forgiveness of wickedness and sin.
 
Today’s prayer:  “O Lord, lest we forget, You remind us:  sin violates created order and interferes with the goodness of our lives.  It enslaves us.  It imprisons us.  Help us to accept that Your forgiveness is the source of true freedom.  Amen!”