Let’s look at the subjects of the three readings: Ezekiel in the First, Paul in the Second, and Jesus in the Gospel.
In the First Reading, God sent Ezekiel to preach to the Israelites, saying that they were a rebellious people who may not listen to Ezekiel. Whether they listened or not, at least they will realize that a prophet had come among them. This reading says that when you are working with obstinate people. Even though you my not get them to listen, you will leave them with the understanding that we did not give up on them.
In the Second Reading, the obstacle was with Paul himself. He likened his special difficulty to both a “thorn in the flesh,” and to “an angel of Satan.” We do not know just what that difficulty was. It could have been a lisp, or some inclination toward sinfulness. Whatever it was, God was offering him the grace to succeed in spite of his handicap. If you have some hang up that embarrasses you, don’t let it hold you back from doing what must be done. With God’s help you can keep going.
In the Gospel Our Lord’s town folk, the very people who should have supported him, let their jealousy of his success turn them against him. There too, we learn that we must keep trying our best, even when we miss support where we thought we would have found it.
All three readings remind me of a U.S. Navy song from the nineteen thirties. It went like this,
“Ship mates stick together, it’s a long long trip. Fair or stormy weather, we won’t give up, we won’t give up the ship. “If you have to take a “lickin,” carry on and quit your “kickin,” don’t give up the ship.”