Monday, January 26, 2015

Reflection: Mark 3:22-30

Third Week of Ordinary Time – Mark 3:22-30

Today’s Gospel picks up where Saturday’s Gospel ended. Today the scribes accuse Jesus of being possessed by Beelzebub. They state that they believe that it’s the power of this “prince of demons” that gave Jesus the power to cast out demons! Also, the people who were listening to Jesus preach declare that He was “out of His mind!”

However, Jesus did not let their comments distract or deter Him. He immediately turns to them and questions their declarations. Ultimately Jesus tells the people that all sins, all blasphemies will be forgiven. However, if someone blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, that one will not be forgiven!

What is our reaction to his Gospel? What is the message Jesus is giving us today? Is it about blasphemy? Or is Jesus simply trying to free us? At times in our lives, we are the ones who cannot forgive ourselves for something we have done! Ask yourself: what do you need to forgive yourself for? Are you willing to let Jesus “set you free?” Jesus is waiting and ready! However, do we trust Him enough to open our minds and hearts to His love, His forgiveness, and His healing?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Reflection: Mark 1:14-20

Third Week of Ordinary Time – Mark 1:14-20

Today’s Gospel begins in the middle of Chapter One of Mark’s Gospel. This section of the chapter immediately follows the account of John the Baptist’s arrest. Despite the fact that John had been arrested, Jesus continued on to Galilee to proclaim His message. Everywhere He went, He proclaimed that the time of fulfillment, the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Jesus preached a message of repentance. He invited people to believe in the Gospel.

I wonder what the people who heard him preach thought of Jesus and His message. Andrew and Simon were among the crowd who listened to Jesus’ message. Jesus singled them out and invited them to follow Him. Immediately they dropped their nets, and left their families to follow Him. Jesus must have been a powerful speaker. Also, His message must have been very different from what the other prophets preached. There was something about Jesus that deeply touched Simon and Andrew. Jesus had something they longed for. Thus, they left their nets and boat to follow this man, Jesus.

As they walked along, Jesus called Simon and Andrew. Then going a little further, Jesus also called James and John to follow Him. What was it about Jesus that inspired these common, down-to-earth men, to leave their livelihood, their families and their home to follow this itinerant preacher! Jesus must have had a powerful presence but also a message that spoke to their hearts!

Why do we follow Jesus? Do we do it because it is what we learned as children? Do we follow Jesus because that is what we are supposed to do? Is Jesus a real person to us or is He simply a character in a story to us? Today take some time and reflect on this question: who is Jesus to you? Does Jesus make a difference in your life? I pray your answer is YES!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Reflection: Mark 3:20-21

Second Week of Ordinary Time - Mark 3:20-21

Once again, Jesus is followed by a crowd of people. There is no respite for Jesus. The people are desperate. They long to hear Jesus preach and they hope to be healed of their diseases, be they of body, mind or spirit. The people recognized that there was something very different about Jesus. Yes, Jesus preached and healed as many other prophets did. But perhaps more importantly, Jesus truly “saw” them. And Jesus loved them!

Love is very healing! Love says that we are important to the other person. Love tells us that we are accepted and cared for as we are. Love desires the best for us, even if it is at the sacrifice of the other.

Jesus was and is the ultimate Lover. No matter what “state” we are in when we come to Jesus, He immediately gathers us to Himself in love. Perhaps the fact that Jesus desires us to come to Him no matter what “state” we are in is proof that Jesus is the ultimate unconditional Lover. Jesus simply desires for us to live in close communion with Him. He is not worried about our past. He never gives up on us. Jesus simply loves us as we are. And He waits for us to “come home” to Him! What will we do today?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Reflection: Mark 3:13-19

Second Week of Ordinary Time - Mark 3:13-19

Today Jesus appoints the “Twelve,” those disciples who would become His closest companions. Jesus wants to send them forth to spread His message of the “Good News!” He also gave 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!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reflection: Mark 3:7-12

Second week of ordinary time — Mark 3:7-12

The opening words of today’s Gospel states that Jesus and his disciples withdrew from the crowds. I would imagine that Jesus simply needed time for rest, quiet and peace. Crowds are usually draining — especially if they all want your attention!

However, this was not to be. A good number of people from various regions and cities followed Jesus. Despite His longing for quiet and peace, Jesus cured many people. However, as word of His power spread, more and more people kept coming to Jesus. The Gospel also says that unclean spirits shouted out to Jesus. These spirits recognized Jesus as the Son of God!

Who is Jesus to us? Do we truly recognize Him as the Son of God? Do we have a personal relationship with Jesus? Or is He simply a figure in the Bible? Do we only want Jesus to heal us so we can go on about our lives? If so, will we approach Him and ask Him for what we desire?

Perhaps the more important question is: do we desire a personal relationship with Jesus? This relationship is the greatest gift we can have! Perhaps we should ask for a deeper relationship with Jesus? Will we?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Reflection: Mark 3:1-6

Second Week of Ordinary Time — Mark 3:1-6

Today the Pharisees continue to monitor what Jesus is doing. As Jesus goes into the synagogue, He sees a man seated there who had a withered hand. Jesus quietly and simply asks the man to come to Him. Then Jesus turns to the Pharisees and asks them if it is lawful to “d0 good” on the Sabbath. Yes, it was Sabbath. However, was it better to heal someone or was it better to ignore their suffering?

The Pharisees did not know how to respond. They just kept silent. Jesus was deeply saddened and angry at the hardness of the Pharisees’ hearts. Jesus then turns to the man and quietly asks him to stretch out his hand. The man does so and immediately his hand was healed!

What is “withered” in our lives? What is the healing that we long for? Are we ready to “stretch our hand” and ask Jesus to heal us? Do we trust that Jesus will respond to us? Do we have faith that Jesus will heal us in some way (even if it is not the one we hope for?) Jesus is waiting for us! Will we come?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reflection: Mark 2:23-28

Second Week of Ordinary Time - Mark 2:23-28

Today the Pharisees continue to criticize Jesus. Jesus and His disciples were walking through a field of grain and as they walked along, they picked some of the grain. They may have done it without even thinking about it. However, the Pharisees immediately confront Jesus and ask Him why His followers were doing something that was unlawful to do on the Sabbath.

Jesus quietly responds to their question by reminding the Pharisees that when David and his companions were hungry, David had the audacity to go into the “house of God” and they ate bread that only the priests were allowed to eat. He also tells the Pharisees that the Sabbath was created for human beings, not human beings for the Sabbath.

As Christians, most of us don’t call Sundays “Sabbath.” However, in today’s world, for many people “Sunday” has become simply another day of the week. To others, Sunday simply may be a day when they don’t have to work. God may not be in their thoughts at all on Sunday. However, as you are reading this commentary, I assume that God is an important part of your life!

So ask yourself: why do you go to Church? Do you go simply because you are supposed to? Or do you go for spiritual enrichment? Do you have a community at Church that is caring and supportive? “Going to Church” can become automatic! It may simply be part of my weekly routine. The reality is that I may physically be at Church yet I am not truly attending to what is going on right in front of me. My body may be there but my mind may be miles away!

The challenge is to keep bringing my mind back to this celebration of the Eucharist, to what is happening in this sacred space. God knows that we “wander.” God doesn’t ask much of us. God simply wants us to “wake up” and be attentive to Him and His sacrament during the 40-60 minutes we are there! However, we may have to remind ourselves to “stay awake” several times during the Eucharist! The question is: will we?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Reflection: Marck 2:18-22

Second Week of Ordinary Time – Mark 2:18-22

Today’s Gospel opens as people come to Jesus and ask Him: “why do your disciples not fast?” Everyone knew that the Pharisees fasted as did the disciples of John. They were curious about the fact that Jesus and His disciples did not fast. Jesus doesn’t respond as they may have hoped He would. Rather, Jesus uses the example of a wedding feast.

Jesus tells his listeners that as long as the bridegroom is at the reception, the guests will continue to celebrate this joyous occasion. The time to fast will be when the bridegroom is no longer with them. Jesus then uses the image of a cloak that is torn and needs to be patched. He tells His listeners that anyone with sense would not use a new piece of material to patch the cloak. Given the difference in the age of the cloths, it would simply make the tear worse. Jesus then uses the image of wineskins. He says that you should never put new wine into previously used wineskins. The skins would burst!

Today perhaps is Jesus is inviting us to “do something new” rather than simply continuing to live out our old (and perhaps unhealthy) patterns. I assume that all of us have at least one pattern in our life that we would like to change. Take a moment and ask yourself: what is one small change I would like to make in my life? How serious am I about making this change?

Change is not as easy. It is easy to make a New Year’s resolution. However, it is much more difficult to keep that resolution. What is the change that you would like to make? What is the change that you desire? And what is one simple step you can take to move in that direction? May we pray for one another that we will take that first step!