Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Choosing Humility or Rigidity

In today's gospel, Mark 3: 1-6, Jesus invites a man with a withered hand to come up to Him in the synagogue.  It is the sabbath and Jesus asked the Pharisees: "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it? But they remained silent.  Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' He stretched it out and his hand was restored."  Angered that Jesus healed the withered hand on the sabbath, the Pharisees left the synagogue and plotted to kill Jesus.

Has there been a time when we were challenged to rise above the law and do what is right? How did we respond? angrily that our rigid stances and idolization of the law was challenged?  Did we leave the challenger's presence and plot against that person, spewing words of revenge against him/her?  Or did we step back, reflect upon the situation and realize the call to conversion of heart?



Tuesday, January 22, 2019

God Sees the Good You Do Every Day

In today's first reading, Hebrews 6: 10-20, St. Paul reminds us that "God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you  have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones."  Think of the love that you, as parents, demonstrate to your children, husbands and wives to each other, children to parents.  God does not overlook that about you!  Every day, you serve others--persons who in the very core of their beings are holy.  Each of us as come forth from God, the Holy One. We are made in God's image, that is, in holiness, goodness and love!  We are empowered to share that holiness, goodness and love with others.

More and more, as I grow older, I realize what love my parents showed us throughout their lives:  up at 4:00 or 5:00 every morning, being sure that the house was somewhat warm, in winter, before us kids got up, doing chores day and night as farmers, gardeners, "chefs," bill payers, money managers, canners, seamstresses, launderers, ironers, domestic workers, chauffeurs, "catechists", comforters, teachers, challengers, encouragers, "counselors," and on and on!  God never overlooked their work and the love they "demonstrated for his name by having served" us children and one another, day in and day out, in "bad" days and good days, in problematic, fearful times, when all went well and when things did not go so well!

As I reflect on parents with young children today, I see the same pattern. I rejoice in the awesome dedication, the love shown by loving, caring parents day in and day out!  All because of God's faithfulness, God's presence, God's love, God's covenant with us!  God sees the good done every day, all day, by each of us!  May God  be praised!


Monday, January 21, 2019

Christ our High Priest and and all Priests: Our Representatives before God

Today's first reading, Hebrews 5: 1-10, speaks to us of the priesthood, reminding us that every "high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins....No one take this honor upon himself but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. In the same way, it was not Christ who glorified himself in becoming high priest, but rather the one who said to him: 'You are my son: this day I have begotten you';....Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

When talking to the priest who said Mass for us this morning, he said that he deeply cherishes his priesthood. It means the world to him.  What a calling to be made our "representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins."  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered in obedience to Jesus, when, taking the bread and wine in his sacred hands, Jesus said to his disciples at the Last Supper: "This is my body given for you; do this in memory of me. This is my blood poured out for you; do this in memory of me."  In memory of Jesus' passion and death and resurrection, the priest consecrates the bread and wine at every Mass, calling upon the Holy Spirit to transform these gifts into the body and blood of Jesus at the words of consecration. In unison with the priest, we then offer these gifts to God as a sacrificial offering for our sins and the sins of the whole world.

Every second of every day, somewhere in the world, in Catholic Churches,  this sacrificial offering is made.  Jesus then feeds us in Holy Communion with this sacred food--His body and blood-- nourishing us in body, mind and spirit according to our needs and those we acknowledge; deepening our faith, hope and love according to our requests; purifying/cleansing us of the sins of which we repent;  strengthening us, making us whole, healing the brokenness about which we speak to Him and helping others whom we bring to Him in intercessory prayer!

Oh, the intimacy and nearness of our God!






Saturday, January 19, 2019

Totally Exposed to the Lord!

In today's first reading, Hebrews 4: 12-16, St. Paul reminds us that the Word of God "is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature," St. Paul warns us, "is concealed from  him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account."

Those are strong words!  You and I are "naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we render an account."   Everything about us--every thought we think, every word we utter, all of our actions and omissions--is known to God! The same is true for people in highest positions of leadership throughout the world.  No one is concealed from God.

Our consolation, St. Paul tells us, in this passage,  is that  Jesus is able to "sympathize with our weaknesses, [for He, too, as a human being,] has been tested in every way  [like us], except sin." Therefore, "we can confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help." My prayer for all humankind is that we do just that so that we receive the help we need to repent, to turn from evil and do good and to believe in the Gospel!  The time is now!


Friday, January 18, 2019

Seeking Help, Being Helped, Blocking Help

In today's Gospel, Mark 2: 1-12,  some friends of a paralytic man bring him to the house where Jesus is healing the sick. The crowd has blocked entrance to the house, so the men climb up on the roof, create an opening and lower the paralytic man. "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him. 'Child, your sins are forgiven." Some scribes who were in the house object and, in their minds, accuse Jesus of blaspheming: "Who but God alone can forgive sins?" Jesus knows what they are thinking and says to them: "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'? But that you may  know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth'--he said to the paralytic, 'I say to  you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home'!" 

Who are you, am I, in that scene? The persons who bring their friend to the Lord for healing? the paralytic in  need of Jesus' healing? the scribes who question Jesus' authority? or part of the crowd seeking healing from Jesus?  You or I may be any or all of those persons!

We might ask ourselves the following questions:  What in me, like the roof or the crowd, blocks Jesus from getting to me or me going to Jesus for healing?  From what do I need healing? What keeps me, also, from helping others in need of healing? Am I willing to do whatever it takes to help others or am I one who blocks others from getting the help they need from the Lord and from others? Furthermore, am I one questioning Jesus' authority; or, when God works through another person, am I one who is accusing them of overstepping their authority?





Thursday, January 17, 2019

Aware that Our Actions Have Consequences

In today's gospel, Mark 1: 40-45, a leper approaches Jesus, kneels down and says: "'If you wish, you can make me clean.' Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to  him, 'I do will it. Be made clean.' The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean."  Jesus asked him to tell no one about the healing. However, he broadcast it everywhere to the point that "it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places...."   Jesus suffers the consequences of the leper's inability to respect Jesus' request for privacy and ends up in the position of lepers who had to remain apart from people and stay in deserted places.

The question we need to ponder is: Are we aware of the consequences of the choices we make when faced with sharing our pleasant or unpleasant experiences? When something exciting or painful or traumatic happens, it is easy to get caught in the trap of impulsively sharing it with someone, if not everyone who crosses our path. The temptation to blurt everything out "on the street corners"  is powerful! However, God is far more powerful than Satan and is always at our side with His guidance and wisdom!  May God's wisdom prevail!  






Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Purposeful living!

In today's Gospel, Mark 1: 29-39, Jesus, with James and John,  visited Simon and his brother Andrew.  When Jesus entered their house, Simon and Andrew immediately told Him that Simon's mother-in-law was ill. Jesus approaches her, grasps her hand, and helps her up. Immediately "the fever left her" and she proceeded to wait on her guests.  Toward evening the entire town brought the ill and possessed to him and he healed them. Early in the morning he found a deserted place to communicate with His Father. He wasn't there very long when those who were with him found him to tell him that "[e]veryone is looking for you."  Jesus does not get hooked into pleasing those who were awed by his miracles. He says to his disciples, "Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose I have come."  Jesus knows what His mission is and is not into being gloated over, into being popular, seeking prestige or honors! He says "no" to those things and moves on!  He is clear about His purpose for being here on earth!

What motivates me in the choices I make? What motivates you in the choices you make?  Am I, are you,  seeking honor, glory, prestige or power? Or am I, are you, following the Spirit's lead to help others in need and then moving on to the next mission? Are we clear about why we are here on earth for a short time?