Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reflection: Mark 3:31-35

Tuesday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 3:31-35

The scene of today’s Gospel portrays the arrival of Mary, Jesus’ mother, as well as his brothers. Rather than coming into the house where Jesus was staying, they all remained outside the house and called out to Him. The people around Jesus told Him that His family had arrived.

However, rather than immediately going to find His family, Jesus says to His listeners: “Who is my mother or my brothers?” Jesus then looks intently at the people and simply says: “Here is my family: my mother and my brother.” He goes on to say that any person who does the will of God becomes a member of His family.

Perhaps the question we need to ask ourselves is, are we doing the will of God? How do we know what the will of God is? Do we trust that whatever is going on in our lives (good or difficult), is the will of God? We all know that life is not easy. There are good times in our lives that bless us abundantly and there are painful and difficult times in our lives that may prompt us to question God or to wonder where God is. It is easy to sense God’s presence and love when all is going well. And often it is difficult to experience God’s presence when life is challenging. However, God’s presence doesn’t change; it is our perception that changes.

In the difficult times, do I turn to God or do I shut God out? At these times, I usually am tempted to blame God for what is happening in my life. However, these are the times when I/we need God the most. We all know that bad things happen to good people. However, when we are the people that bad things are happening to, we may lose our normally clear perspective and belief.

Are we able to trust God at these times? Do we stay open to God’s presence and grace? May we pray for one another that we will trust God during difficult times. However, God will be with us whether we believe that or not! God will never desert us!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Reflection: Mark 3:22-30

Monday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 3:22-30

Today the scribes who had come from Jerusalem told the people: “Jesus is possessed by a demon.” Then after a moment they added: “He expels demons with the help of the prince of demons.” Jesus then took the initiative and asked the scribes several questions: “How can Satan expel Satan?  Or if a kingdom is torn by civil strife, how will that kingdom last?  If a household is divided, that household will not survive.”   

Jesus then emphatically states: “I give you my word, every sin will be forgiven and as well as all the blasphemies human beings utter, except the blasphemies uttered against the Holy Spirit;  these will never be forgiven.  The person who does this will carry the guilt of this sin into eternity.”  All of Jesus words were spoken to discount the words the scribes had spoken: “He is out of his mind!”

Clearly, Jesus was “fed up” with the scribes!  Daily they criticized him, no matter what he did or said.  In their eyes, Jesus could do nothing right!  Thus, the tirade Jesus delivered to the scribes was deserved.  However, Jesus’ criticism of the scribes, simply “fueled” the scribes’ anger and fear of Jesus. Thus, the scribes began to spread the rumor that Jesus was “possessed by an unclean spirit.”

Take a moment and ask yourself: Do I ever accuse someone unfairly?  Or do I “put down” other people simply because I don’t like them or approve of how they live their lives?  I suspect that every human being does this at times.  Yet we do not have the right to criticize others.  All of us have many “growing edges,” yet we do not like it when others criticize us.  Today, be mindful of your thoughts and your words.  If your thoughts are negative, think positive thoughts of the person you are judging – as best you can. This will be a great gift to the person, yourself and the world!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reflection: Matthew 3:1-12

Sunday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time - Matthew 3:1-12

The Gospel for today focuses on John the Baptist.  When John began preaching in the desert of Judea he proclaimed this message: “Reform your lives!  The reign of God is at hand!”  It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken: “A herald’s voice in the desert; prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path.”  It is in the wilderness where “the highway of our God” will be found.  

John typically wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt.  He also had a strange diet that consisted of grasshoppers and wild honey.  John’s mission was to prepare the way for the One who would come after him.  Typically crowds of people came out to hear John preach and he baptized many people in the Jordan River.  However, when John realized that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees wished to be baptized, he soundly rebuked them saying: “You brood of vipers!  Who told you to flee from the wrath to come?  If you wish to be baptized, show proof that you mean to reform your lives.  Don’t just claim that you will reform your lives; words alone simply are not sufficient.”   

John then adds: “I baptize you with water for the sake of reform, but there is one who will come and he will baptize in the Holy Spirit and with fire. He will clear the threshing floor and gather his grain into barn and the chaff will be burned in an unquenchable fire!”  John called the people to repentance.  Repentance (the Greek word, metanoia) is not simply turning away from our past way of life; rather it is the beginning of a new path to life, which typically is signified by the rite of Baptism.  Today and everyday we are called to reform our lives.  No matter how much we strive to be better human beings, we always have room to grow.  Today, ask yourself: how can I live a better life today?  May you strive to do so.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Reflection: Mark 3:20-21

Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 3:20-21

Immediately after calling His disciples, Jesus returned to the house with the disciples. Again a large crowd gathered around Him anxious to hear Him speak.  However, this made it impossible for Jesus and the disciples to get any food.  When his family heard of this, they came to take charge of Jesus saying: “He is out of his mind!”  

What was it that caused Jesus’ relatives to believe that “he was out of his mind?”  Was it because his words sounded foreign to them?  Were they trying to make him believe and behave as they did?  Or perhaps they had not yet realizes that Jesus was much more than their relative!  They simply were unable to comprehend who Jesus was!  

I suspect that at times, this also is true of our families; at times family members may not understand our beliefs or our behaviors.  Yet hopefully, our families will continue to love us, even when they may not agree with us.  We also need to respect our family members’ choices; we simply do have not the right to judge what may be right for someone else.  Today may we strive to not judge others!  Today, we may give the gift of non-judgment!  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Reflection: Mark 3:13-19

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 3:13-19

Today Jesus appoints “the Twelve,” the disciples who would become His closest companions. Jesus wants to send them forth to spread His message of the “Good News.” He also gives them the power to drive out demons. He then sends them forth to preach and teach.

I wonder how the disciples responded to Jesus calling them to follow Him? Were they excited? Amazed? Or were they shocked and perhaps a bit apprehensive? Did they believe that they also would have the power to do wondrous works?

Today Jesus calls us! Today Jesus calls you and me to “do good” for others! Daily Jesus asks us to spread His Word and His Love. How do we respond? Do we trust that we have gifts to share? Will we trust that Jesus will be with us and guide us? We are blessed! Today may we share our blessings with everyone we encounter!